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What is love?
Seriously, though, what is it?
What is love?
A verb?
A noun?
A universal truth?
An ideal?
A common thread of all religions?
A cult?
A neurological phenomenon?
There's no shortage of answers.
Some are all-encompassing.
It conquers all.
It's all you need.
It's all there is.
These are all comparisons, though,
ways of defining it by contrast,
by saying it's more important
than all other things,
but is it?
Sure, love matters more
than your standard turkey sandwich,
but does it matter more than shelter?
Or sanity?
Or an exceptional turkey sandwich?
No matter your answer,
you're just ranking it,
not defining it.
Another challenge to defining love
is we often try to do so
while falling into it
or out of it.
Would you trust someone who just won the lottery
to accurately define the concept of currency?
Or, I don't know, ask a guy to define bears
while he's fending them off?
Or is romance not like winning the lottery?
Are break ups not like bear attacks?
Bad comparisons?
That's my point.
I'm not thinking right
because I'm in love,
so ha!
Taking a step back,
or taking a cold shower,
love is potentially the most intensely thought about thing
in all of human history.
And despite centuries upon centuries of obsession,
it still overwhelms us.
Some say it's a feeling,
a magical emotion,
a feeling for someone like you've never felt before.
But feelings are fluid,
not very concrete foundation for a definition.
Sometimes you hate the person you love.
Plus, come on, you've felt feelings like it before,
sort of in miniature.
Your relationships with your family
shape your relationships with partners.
And your love for your partner
may be in its own dynamic relationship,
healthy or totally weird,
with the love of your parents and siblings.
Love is also a set of behaviors
we associate with the feeling:
Holding hands,
public displays of affection,
having kids,
or just sex.
But these loving actions can be subjective
or culturally relative.
You may love or be someone who can't have kids
or doesn't want to,
who believes in marriage but also in divorce,
who's from a culture where people don't really date
the way we think of dating,
or who just doesn't want to make out on the bus.
But if love is a thing that we can define,
then how can it mean opposite things
for so many people?
So, maybe love's just all in your head,
a personal mystery winding through your neural pathways
and lighting up pleasing, natural rewards
in your nervous system.
Perhaps these rewards are addictive.
Perhaps love is a temporary
or permanent addiction to a person,
just like a person can be addicted to a drug.
I don't know mean to be edgy
like some pop song.
Evidence shows that chemicals in your brain
stimulated by another person
can make you develop a habit for that person.
The person comes to satisfy
a physiological craving,
and you want more.
But then sometimes,
slowly or suddenly,
you don't.
You've fallen out of love,
become unaddicted,
for a spell.
What happened?
Does one develop a tolerance or hit a limit?
Why do some lovers stay addicted
to each other their entire lives?
Perhaps to create new lives,
to proliferate their species?
Maybe love is just human DNA's optimal method
for bringing about its own replication.
There are evolutionary arguments
regarding every human mating behavior,
from how we display ourselves to potential mates,
to how we treat each other in relationships,
to how we raise kids.
Thus, some argue that the feeling
you think you feel in your soul
is just biology's way to make you continue our species.
Nature has selected you
to have crushes on hotties,
just like it makes monkeys
have crushes on hot monkeys,
and biology marches on.
But is that all love is?
Or, perhaps worse, is it just a construct,
some fake concept we all convince each other
to try to live up to
for a fake sense of purpose?
Maybe it is a construct,
but let's be more precise
about what a construct is
because love is constructed from reality:
Our experiences,
brain chemistry,
cultural expectations,
our lives.
And this edifice can be viewed
through countless dimensions:
or just personal.
If no two people are the same,
no two people's love is the same either.
So, in every loving relationship,
there's a lot to talk about
and partners should be open to that,
or the relationship probably won't last.
Love is always up for discussion
and, sure, under construction.
So, if we can't define it,
that's a good sign.
It means we're all still making it.
Wait, I didn't mean,
you know what I meant.
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【TED-Ed】What is love? - Brad Troeger

19432 Folder Collection
VoiceTube published on February 28, 2014
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