Contemplating Aroha

For those who are not Kiwi or otherwise familiar with the term, "aroha" is a te reo Māori term that translates to "love".

I have been thinking a lot lately about the place of love in our lives. Yes, it provides emotional comfort. Yes, it helps protect us from predators and the elements when we are loved. There are many practical aspects of love. There are also physical aspects of love as the body responds to the generation of this emotion in us and in receiving love from others. What else is there?

Love Versus Hate

Some discuss love in contrast to another strong emotion, hate. It is common for us to define things by what they are not (or other things to which they are similar but somehow different). I don't want to slip into Derrida and binary oppositions here, but to simply note that for many love is defined by what it is not. I am coming to see that this is a very limited approach.

Defining Love

One of the purposes of this site will be to consider what aroha is, what is it capable of helping us become, and how it can change our relationships with others. While I will not attempt an answer at this point, I will say that I am coming to see it as a cluster of things we tend to consider separately, including empathy, compassion and kindness. In this evolving understanding (I am not there yet), love is an aggregate of many other things, something like how "well-being" in Positive Psychology has come to be seen as the result of other traits/attributes/actions.

Love Bringing Change

What I do already know is that love can change our lives. It can change our relationships with others and - perhaps the greatest insight I have discovered so far - it can change our relationship with ourselves. This site is about developing these insights and sharing them, so that we can benefit from improved mental health, improved interpersonal relationships and an improved world.

Aroha nui,

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Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️