There is a story in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition about a yogi named Milarepa who lived as a hermit in the mountains. One day seven demons appeared in his home while he was out on a walk. His first response was to demand that they leave, as it was his home and not theirs. This caused four of them to disappear, but three remained. No matter how stern he was he could not get them to leave, so he decided to change his approach. He invited them to stay for as long as they desired, even offering them dinner. With that, two more disappeared leaving one behind. Milarepa decided that he would give this demon his life and walked up to put his head in its mouth. POOF went the last demon.
There are many obstacles (demons) in the course of a lifetime, each demanding a different degree of attention and sacrifice. While we may lack the ability to control which challenges befall us, we do possess the ability to shape our responses to them. Viktor Frankl wrote extensively about this in his Man's Search for Meaning. He wrote about his imprisonment in the German concentration camps of WWII, noting that the ones who made it through found meaning outside of their suffering. The meaning that they found was Love. Love for others and love for self. Even love for their captors.
On this Valentines Day, I would like to suggest that everyone reengage with the emotion of love in a new way. See if you can set aside your disgust for the challenges in your life and instead meet them with your loving attention. See if you can transform your "negative" experiences into important teachers for future successes. By loving the demons that we must face we take responsibility for adding to the good that is in the world, one thought at a time. Soften rather than harden in the face of confrontation. To live with a brave heart is to live in a place of vulnerability where we can feel deeply without fear and act fully with all of our devotion when it is time to act.
Send your love to the important people in your life today. Do it everyday. Maybe go the extra mile this week to make a difference in someone's life who won't even know what you did. It can be as simple as a complement or as complex as you like. Leave a comment below about how you plan to show your love. Don't be afraid of being judged.