Post Valentine’s Day Thoughts: Were the Beatles right that “All you need is Love”?

David Olsen, Ph.D, LCSW

In 1967 the Beatles released the well known song - “all you need is love”.  Written by John Lennon, the refrain became both very well known and quite popular. “All you need is love, love is all you need, love is all you need…”

Is it really that simple, though: All you need is love? Maybe, but it depends how you define love. While love can be a powerful and intoxicating emotion, anyone in a long term relationship knows that love is a verb and requires acts of the will. When the Beatles say all you need is love, the word love is a noun. And too often we remain passive, hoping to find or feel love, often leading to people saying they have “fallen out of love” as if it is out of their control.

Love is a verb involving a number of actions:

All of this is of course easier said than done, and can’t be reduced to simple bullet points or any self help book. O’Henry’s famous short story illustrates the complexity of love. As a couple attempts to practice sacrificial love, the husband sells his watch in order to buy an elaborate comb for his lover’s hair - who of course has ironically cut off her hair to sell in order to buy a chain for the watch that he has sold.

Start to think about love a little differently this year. Think about love as a verb, move beyond flowers and roses, and work on specific action steps and honest discussion to be more actively loving.