How To Love

Thich Nhat Hanh

How To Love



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Human beings share an innate desire to give and receive true love. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh offers reflections, advice, and meditation exercises, and shows us how to learn to love and accept ourselves, how to open our hearts to acceptance, and how to start really listening.

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Analysis and key concepts


It is easy to recognise authentic love, as it gives us a sense of strength, freedom, peace, and most of all, a deep feeling of joy at being alive


Loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are the four fundamental characteristics of love, and are each essential to feeling true love


We must respect ourselves and believe that we are beautiful creatures, not only on the inside or on a spiritual level, but also physically: loving ourselves also means loving our body


By practising our spirituality, we will no longer be afraid: we all possess a physical and spiritual body


Listening is the basis of understanding; if we are too busy retaliating and arguing, we are unable to really listen, which can lead to conflict


If a relationship does not bring us joy, it means that there is no real love there. We should be able to know what makes our partner happy, but also what causes them pain


Metta is a kind of meditation that allows us to practise loving kindness, which is key to the flow of deep joy; this practice helps us get rid of everything negative that hinders our ability to love




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of love.
  • Learn that, in order to really love, we must first learn to love ourselves.
  • Start opening ourselves up to true love.

Thich Nhat Hanh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, who was famous for his commitment to non-violent activism. During the Vietnam War, he was imprisoned, tortured, and eventually forced into exile. He only returned to Vietnam in the 2000s, after living in the USA for many years, where he became friends with Martin Luther King, and also several years in France. He wrote three books on the history of Buddhism in Vietnam, and poems that have been translated into many languages.

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