There are two rules to follow:
Don’t say “I love you” when you don’t mean it.
Say it only when you mean it.
This phrase is not reserved for family and lovers. You can love your best friend, your pet, your car, your god, yourself, the random stranger who made you smile, and the server in your favorite restaurant who remembers your usual dish.
Don’t be afraid of this phrase. Don’t let societal norms dictate when you can and cannot say it.
Remember the rules above: Say it when you mean it. Don’t say it when you don’t mean it.
Follow those rules with a pure heart.
This is an exercise in mindfulness.
Think back to the most recent time you felt love. Not lust, not only love for a partner – just love.
Love for the beauty of the day. Love for your pets. Love for your family. Love for the earth. Love for hope. Love for an idea or a concept. Love for a spiritual path. Love for life. Love for yourself.
Focus on that memory. Remember that feeling, that love. Distill it, in your mind, to its purest essence.
Now, start noticing when you feel that throughout the day. Stop and enjoy it. You can even say outloud or think to yourself, “Feeling love.”
Learn to recognize love and see what else you start recognizing. Gratitude? Happiness? Contentment?
Try it and see. And tell me what happens.