High School

The Value of Love

By Joey Pagano

Every February, we go out and purchase heart-shaped chocolates and bake heart-shaped cookies to represent our love for certain people.

But all that matters about those chocolates and candies is their shape. We can cut out a piece of paper in the shape of a heart and it would carry the same loving message.

As with any emotion, love is difficult to explain. Yet, I consider it an essential component of the Other People Matter Mindset — and of life. The Positivity Project highlights the role of love in our growth as people, as it is one of the 24 character strengths.

Before further describing love, it’s important to remember The Positivity Project explains that love is special and has to be a mutual bond; not a one-way street. That’s why crushes, stalking, and celebrity worship don’t fall into The Positivity Project’s definition of love. Because it becomes unhealthy once we cross the line and fail to identify if feelings only go one way.

When we value love, not only are we willing to sacrifice for others and support them through thick and thin, but we also realize there’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable.

Those bonds are unique. Society tends to associate love with family. And don’t get me wrong, I believe we should place our family over everything, but I don’t think love is limited to family or romance. If you ask me, there are different classes and categories within the love spectrum, and you can love different people on different levels.

I value this concept because of my experiences with relationships. Throughout high school, I had a few friends who always made sure I was involved with what they were doing, regardless of the challenges it presented to them — and regardless of whether I could ever repay them for what they did.

No, we aren’t blood-related, but we are family. That spectrum doesn’t measure who you love the most. It just means love has a series of notches and that love is a rare magnet between people that simply doesn’t exist everywhere.

These friends sacrifice for me and give me the backbone to support myself; similar to what my parents, brothers, and relatives do for me. Having that support system — led by friends and family who have convinced me that “no” is never a sufficient enough answer — has set me up to be successful and accomplish my goals.

Love’s rarity is what we have to notice and address. We have to realize that it’s not a part of everyone’s life and ask ourselves if we should take the Other People Matter Mindset to another level as a society and develop a new meaning of love — a love for everyone.

I’m not saying we have to change our mindsets completely and only live for others. However, I am convinced it’s our responsibility to support and be there for one another, even if that means I support you through one tough moment during our first encounter — and we never cross paths again.

Because of society and its tendencies to sometimes be hostile, we tend to think twice about loving one another. It scares us to be seen as weak.

But truly, all this boils down to is considering the thoughts and feelings of other people — and caring about them. 

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

Joey Pagano
Student, Syracuse University

Building the Other People Mindset and remembering and emphasizing its importance is what I aim for day after day. As I continue to pursue a career in journalism and attend the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, I aim to show people that buying into The Positivity Project doesn’t mean you have to be happy and positive all the time, but instead means we have to work together more and build positive relationships. You can also find Joey on Twitter @WheelchairQB_ and at his blog www.wheelchairqb.com.