Do You Want to Expand Your Capacity to Love Others and Yourself? These 8 Simple Rules from Bestselling Author Jay Shetty Will Help
Back in 2020, Jay Shetty—an inspirational thinker on topics ranging from peace and purpose to gratitude and forgiveness—taught us how to think like a monk. He inspired us to look at the roadblocks to our potential and to discover more happiness and meaning through self-awareness.
Now, the #1 New York Times bestselling author is encouraging us to look at all the ways we love—ourselves, our family, our friends, our romantic partners, and perhaps most importantly, the world. The Sunday Paper sat down with Shetty to talk about his new book, 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go, and how we can all take actionable, specific steps to practice and nurture love in all its forms better than ever before.
A CONVERSATION WITH JAY SHETTY
You write that while we can’t know where and when we’ll find love, we can prepare for it. What’s one thing someone who’s looking for a romantic partnership can do today to prepare for it?
One of my favorite exercises involves uncovering our own impressions about love and relationships. Many of the ideas we have about what relationships should be like come from the media. So, one exercise that can also be kind of fun is to sit down and list out the movies and songs that have shaped how you view love. For instance, is love a battlefield? Do you expect someone else to complete you? Are you hoping that a prince will rescue you, or do you want to be someone’s knight in shining armor? Then, take a critical look at what you’ve listed, because many of those storylines aren’t realistic or healthy, yet we carry those expectations into our relationships. Simply becoming aware of them can be tremendously helpful.
Why is it so important that we learn to navigate the imperfections in our relationships (and ourselves)?
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to create the perfect relationship. But, there’s no such thing. Relationships are like a garden. They can be lush and gorgeous and fruitful, but they need tending. One day it needs more sun, another day maybe it needs some weeding. You have to keep showing up to see what’s needed at any given time. And yes, that’s work, but it’s worth it. To me, perfection has the connotation of stagnation—that things are frozen and static—and that’s the exact opposite of a successful relationship, which is dynamic. Ideally, you’re always growing and changing, and if you do it well, and with loving attention, you’ll grow together instead of apart.
Part 1 of your new book is all about learning to love ourselves. Why is self-love crucial, and what is a way all of us can deepen our love for ourselves?
In the book, I say that in solitude, we practice giving ourselves what we need before we expect it from someone else. People often say they’re looking for their better half, but then, does that make you the worse half? That’s not a great way to begin. You don’t want to feel dependent on another person for love or to feel good about yourself. I get it—spending time alone is really hard for a lot of people. In one study, people chose to administer an electric shock to themselves rather than sit with their own thoughts. But when we learn to appreciate ourselves, we’re never really alone—we’re always with someone we love. And that’s the energy we want to bring to our relationships.
Learning to love through struggle is challenging for most of us. How do you recommend those who might be struggling in a relationship work on forgiveness and healing—or know when to let love go?
Well, I think one thing we want to keep in mind is that when we’re struggling in our relationship, one of the easiest things to do is to imagine that if we were with someone else, things would be different. But unless you resolve them, you’ll take the same issues to your next relationship. I know it’s hard when there’s been a lot of unresolved conflict, so one of the keys is to go into the conflict and not avoid it. Studies show that couples who engage with conflict in a healthy manner actually become stronger. But the key is to learn how to disagree and to fight thoughtfully and with care.
A mindset shift that can be helpful is to stop viewing yourselves as on opposite sides. The problem isn’t the other person, it’s the problem—and you want to take on that problem together, as a team. Of course, some problems can’t be worked out, and in some cases, the best way to love one another may be to end the relationship. I truly believe that with the right attitude and skills, most conflict can be resolved, but when it can’t, that’s not a failure. It’s okay to move on.
You write that “it’s a misconception that the only love in your life is between you and your partner, your family, and your friends…the goal is simply this: to look beyond the self to how we can serve others.” How can all of us broaden our definition of love?
If we view the world as circles of connection, there are people in our immediate circle,and then our community, and on and on outward until we get to all of humanity. You don’t have to immediately try and leap to the outer circle. Just start to extend your caring to the next circle, maybe to a neighbor, or a co-worker. It’s like exercising a muscle—start lighter and eventually your ability to love will grow.
@JayShetty, #1 New York Times bestselling author, award-winning podcast host of On Purpose and Chief Purpose Officer of Calm is in today’s issue. Jay's second book, 8 Rules of Love is available for purchase at 8RulesofLove.com and wherever books are sold. To catch Jay on his first ever world tour 'Love Rules', go to JayShettyTour.com for tickets. Follow Jay on Instagram and subscribe to his podcast On Purpose.
Question from the Editor: How will you extend your circle and show love to someone unexpected this week?