Monday, December 10, 2007

"Love Actually...."

Four years ago a movie was released entitled “Love Actually.” It is a Christmas romance comedy that interconnects twelve different love stories. The story reminds us that in spite of all the contradictory evidence, “love actually is all around us.” At the end of the movie many folk spontaneously clapped and cheered. What was all of the clapping about? Folk were celebrating that hope, good will and love won out in the end. People are looking for a message that hope is more enduring than despair and that mean spiritedness will eventually succumb to love.

My favorite scene at the end of the movie was the spontaneous proposal of the writer to the woman from Portugal. Catching his wife in the act of adultery, he moves to a self imposed exile over in Europe. While focused on the task of writing the final chapters of his book, he becomes enamored with his housemaid (a connection is made in spite of the language barrier). The evolving connection is severed when the writer returns to his homeland in the United States. We see him arriving on Christmas Eve, to be with his extended family. After stepping across the doorway, placing his gifts on the floor, he comes to himself and chooses (much to their protest) to fly across the world to propose to a woman who doesn’t speak his native tongue. Sometimes the heart communicates in ways that transcend spoken words.

During the movie I was caught up in the romance, hope and risk of “throwing all caution to the wind.” A day later, I was reflecting on the movie and knew there was a message within these stories that extends beyond the typical bromides of this season.

The end of the movie provided a kaleidoscope of images of everyday folk expressing affection, love to friends and family members. The message “love actually is all around us” is one of hope. Meister Eckhart, Christian mystic and author, stated that gratitude is the beginning of all conversions. Paradoxically when we become more grateful for the loving relationships’ that surrounds us, we actually increase the number of loving relationship in our life and world.

Solution / Possibility Oriented therapist frames being grateful in terms of “Noticing.” It is a simple activity of changing your view of the problem to a view of the desired solution or future. Instead of seeking deep-dish explanation for life’s problems’, choose to focus on what you want to attract and spend time counting (like the old math counters) or noticing when it begins to multiply (even the smallest of changes).

“Noticing” flows from the idea that we tend to create more of what we pay attention to in our lives (brain research indicates that we can become neurologically addicted to both our thoughts and feelings). If you want more love in your life, then dedicate yourself to focusing on and noticing the love that currently is around you. It is easier to state than to put into practice. Sometimes when obstacles show up we need a friend, or therapist to support us in the journey.

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