Recently I’ve been seeing all these mascara ads with #chooselove, as if love is all about showing off your eyelashes by coating them in thick black goop. I have nothing against mascara (let’s be real though it is just thick black goop) but #chooselove? Really, Revlon?
The reason this got me all fired up is that several months ago I decided to make “Choose Love” sort of my personal motto, and it bugs me that these makeup ads are using what I think is potentially a really powerful statement to promote glamour and superficiality.
The idea to make “Choose Love” my personal motto came to me after the ever-inspirational Oprah introduced me to this idea from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross:
“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
I know this isn’t a new idea and it’s already been explored by a lot of wise and thoughtful people. It’s also been used for purposes that I believe to be far nobler than selling eyelash goop. But I had never thought about my emotions in this way, so when Oprah so graciously shared this wisdom, it seriously felt like an epiphany. I thought about how so many times each day, I make decisions that shape the course my own life and the lives of others. I started to wonder: how many of those choices are motivated by fear and how many are motivated by love?
Take starting a blog, for instance. I’ve been thinking about starting one for years because I’ve always thought I’d really enjoy it. So why did I only just publish the first post last week? Because of the following sorts of concerns: If nobody reads it, what’s the point? What if people actually do read it and I run out of things to say? What if I upset people?
I realized, though, that all of the thoughts that were stopping me were based in fear. If I were to choose love, what choice would I make? To start the blog, for no real reason other than the fact that I truly believe I would love doing it.
I’ve also noticed the love vs. fear phenomenon in the ways I react to everyday situations. Say I got super lost on the way to a doctor’s appointment and was probably going to be late. One option would be to go into full-on panic mode, worrying about all the things that are probably definitely going to go wrong and what if I miss the whole appointment and have to come back next week or maybe she has no more appointments this spring so I’ll have to wait until August or what if I drive around for so long that I run out of gas without noticing and get stranded in the middle of nowhere and my cell phone dies and I get eaten by a saber tooth tiger?!?!?!
That would obviously be a fear-based reaction. But I don’t have to react like that. I have a choice. What if I reminded myself in that moment to choose love? I would think, “Well now Maria we might miss that appointment but we’re doing our darned best to find the place, and that’s all we can do right now!” I could choose even more love by taking a deep breath and reminding myself how beautiful the sunshine is today. I could even decide that if I do miss the appointment, I’ll use that time to go for a walk outside or play my mandolin or call somebody I’ve been missing.
Of course, I don’t always remember to choose love in time. I’ve had plenty of experiences like the above where I inadvertently choose fear, and I’m working on that. Training a brain to behave differently than it’s used to can take quite a while apparently. Who knew?
Being afraid doesn’t usually feel like a choice. In a scary situation, a scared response can feel logical, involuntary, and even necessary. But I think that’s just fear trying to convince us to follow it. If we listen carefully, we can hear love making its own argument too. And then we can choose which voice to follow. And because my goal is to squeeze as much star fruit juice out of life as I possibly can, I choose love. And not just on my eyelashes.