hearts-1474“We cannot do great things on this earth; only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Theresa.

I recently had a friend tell me he was lucky in love. What he meant was that his life had been blessed with being loved by others such as his wife, children, grand children, parents, and friends. He also commented on loving those people. He considers himself lucky.

It is wonderful to love.  I wonder how much luck has to do with it. I wonder if the key to being Lucky in Love has more to do with choosing to be present, involved, mindful, and open to receiving and giving love.

Luck suggests randomness such as the throw of a pair of dice, the spin of a roulette wheel, or playing Candyland where you land on a space according to the card you draw. If it isn’t luck, what do we call it?

Some say the opposite of luck is unlucky. But what if you shudder at the thought of luck or a lack of luck. I find the word skillful or intentional to be apt opposites of luck. Let me explain.

As many of you know I am a psychotherapist. I work with all ages, but I work a lot with children. In play therapy children show their tendency to hate losing, their penchant toward cheating and lying, what they will do to win, how they will manipulate, or they show a willingness to risk loss and walk away satisfied with a game well played.

I explain to children that there are two types of games. Those that are games of chance (luck) and those that are games of skill. I further explain that skill is something we learn with practice, patience, effort, and a desire to be good at that which we seek to accomplish.

I differentiate among the games in the play room. Chess and Checkers are games of skill, whereas Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and the card game War are games of chance. It doesn’t matter how many times we play Chutes and Ladders; we won’t become more accomplished at the game. It is a game of chance or what we call luck. Checkers, Pente, and Operation are games of skill. The more you play them the better you get and the more you increase your odds of winning.

So, is love random like Chutes and Ladders or more like Chess or Pente?

I like to think that love is something we know about as children. It is something that for many children is nurtured by example. Over time we can become skilled at using love in new and improved ways. We learn the language of loving neighbors, community, family, and the world. We learn to respect life, choices, and differences that exist between countries and among people. We can come to love the bunny who lives in the yard or the hawk who hunts on baby quail. We can appreciate a rainy day or a sunny one. The glass is half full and we appreciate the small, but steady flow of love in our lives. The smile from a stranger, the gentleness in a thank you from a client, the way the postal worker handed you your stamps, or when the grocery clerk waited for you to put your change in your purse before starting to serve the next customer.

I like to think love is not about luck, but rather it is about be observant and responsive. It is about opening the heart and finding increasingly more opportunities to allow for its expression. Love may begin as an instinct or a consequence of bonding and the offering of protection. Over time it becomes a skill that can be artfully applied to every imaginable opportunity.

Imagine the possibilities.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD