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How to Love

Mindful lessons on love

By Thich Nhat Hanh
15-minute read
Audio available
How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

How to Love (2015) is an indispensable collection of teachings on the subject of love from the world-renowned Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. Packed full of wisdom and insight, this aphoristic handbook unlocks the mysteries of true love in its exploration of what it means to love ourselves, our partners and the world itself.

  • Star-crossed lovers
  • Singles looking for their Mr – or Ms – Darcy
  • Anyone searching for mindful answers to the conundrums of love

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and the founder of Plum Village, a well-known retreat in southwestern France. Hanh is both a spiritual teacher of mindfulness known around the globe and a prolific author of essays, books and poems. His previous books include the bestsellers Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames and The Miracle of Mindfulness.

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How to Love

By Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
Synopsis

How to Love (2015) is an indispensable collection of teachings on the subject of love from the world-renowned Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. Packed full of wisdom and insight, this aphoristic handbook unlocks the mysteries of true love in its exploration of what it means to love ourselves, our partners and the world itself.

Key idea 1 of 9

Love must be nourished with happiness and shared with others.

Imagine adding a spoon of salt to a glass of water. It’ll be undrinkable, right? But what if you add the same amount to a river? A spoonful of salt won’t change much at all.

Love is a bit like that.

If our hearts are small, the tiniest faults and failings of those around us can enrage us. If we expand our hearts, however, we become capable of treating others with compassion and empathy.

So how do you become more loving?

Love needs sustenance. It needs happiness.

That’s because love is a living thing and, like every other breathing being, it needs nourishment.

Happiness is the food of love. When you’re happy, you become capable of loving both yourself and others.

But that begs the question: What is happiness?

Zen Buddhism can provide a few insights.

Happiness can’t be attained by fulfilling superficial desires. It’s the fruit of mindfulness. Take walking. If you focus your attention on every single movement of your body and forget your eventual destination and the reason you’re trying to get there, you’ll begin to understand what happiness is.

That’s because mindfulness is about experiencing and appreciating the present moment. When we’re attentive to the present, we begin to notice how much beauty there is in the world. We can truly appreciate the joys of something as simple as a blossoming flower.

But don’t keep this to yourself! Beauty, like love and happiness, is made for sharing.

Practicing mindfulness is a great way of learning how to share these gifts with other people.

Imagine going for a walk with a friend who’s preoccupied and worried about something. You can bring happiness and love into their troubled reflections just by pointing out the things that warm your heart, whether it’s the sun or the play of clouds in the sky above you.

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