What’s a Love Activist? - The Fantastic 4 Ways to Add More Into Your Life
Today we’re taking a short road trip to LA, but not the city. We’re headed on a virtual tour to explore a trending, new concept in the wellness world and positive psychology called Love Activism. We’ll crank up The Doors’ “LA Woman” as we cruise along, but we’ll revise the verses a bit more equitably to include “LA man, transgender people, children, animals, and Earth.” In brief, this article enlightens you about what love activism is, where this concept came from, and the Fantastic 4 ways to easily integrate this powerful notion into your daily life based on research and references. Fasten those seatbelts as we serve as your personal love activism GPS on this road to altruism!
Smoothie for the Soul: What Is Love Activism and Where Did It Come From?
Have you tried a gazillion smoothie recipes recently? Most of mine typically start with kale and blueberries but end with some mystery ingredients that are a hit or miss. Well, I bet you haven’t tried a “smoothie for the soul” this week, have you? While it could denote the title of a lovely new John Legend song since his music soothes my soul, it’s a concept that encourages us to actively engage in compassion, selflessness and benevolence. Specifically, if we place service, empathy, non-violence, self-care, hope, creativity, feminism, and mindfulness into a blender as key ingredients, then we’ll serve a deliciously healthy and positive “smoothie for the soul.” These elements are essentially what love activism seeks to serve.
What is love activism, and do I need to align myself with a political party, march in a D.C. protest, or carry a heavy sign to try it? No, it’s not a divisive or controversial concept. It is a recent term, coined by Stacy Russo in her sensational 2018 book, Love Activism (https://www.love-activism.com/about). With all the important causes and issues to support currently in our world, this holistic one can invigorate us all as global citizens, so let’s sip some of it together to drive dreams of justice, empower others, and uplift ourselves in the process, regardless of whether we’re in LA, VA, IA, GA, or PA.
“Cruise Control: The Fantastic 4 Ways to Add More Love Activism Into Your Life”
Being a love activist doesn’t mean emulating the Bachelor or Bachelorette show and accepting roses in steamy hot tubs. Let’s shift into cruise control and check out the Fantastic 4 ways to easily apply this topic into our own lives, as inspired from some of Russo’s major tenets from her book. We’re not highlighting the Marvel characters but positive, empowering, and civic character traits that will enrich our lives on so many levels!
1. Pay It Forward: While the notion isn’t new to us, Russo (2019) in “Love Activism” from USA Today Magazine compels us to perform acts of kindness for our loved ones, animal friends, communities, strangers, and the environment: “Even what seems to be the simplest act of service can light someone’s heart, which also will light our own. One way to think of the profound impact of service is to consider how you felt when someone did something for you without expecting anything in return” (p. 66). Think about what you can do today, whether it’s distributing water, toiletries, and clothing items to a homeless shelter, prepping for Memorial Day weekend to honor veterans by taking flags to the local cemetery, volunteering for some paws and whiskers time at the animal shelter, making cards for a children’s hospital, or visiting a nursing home to play some card games with residents. How will you pay it forward on your road to love activism? Russo’s website lists some superb practices that will definitely motivate you more: https://www.love-activism.com/practices/
2. Word Up to Rise Up: One of my favorite songs by Andra Day is “Rise Up.” It could lead a love activist soundtrack with its affirmative vibes and optimistic message. Her song makes me recognize that we can all use our words, time, and talents to uplift others, not just in formal settings like petitions and marches, but also on smaller scales. Her song inspires me to teach our kids, families, and community members how to build resilience, exude self-worth, accept each other, and show genuine love unconditionally. We can all serve proactively as love activists when we see someone who is alone, suffering, or different, and reach verbally, pull up a chair next to someone in a café and just chat about the weather, help an elderly person at the store who is struggling with a cart, and get to know our neighbors as we did in the past, small but often overlooked steps in our modern world of fast and furious frenzy. We can mentor a teen in community, teach English to refugees, take a meal to someone who is sick or recovering from surgery, volunteer at a foster care agency, or participate at the local library to read to people with intellectual disabilities, offer to babysit for new parents, for example. Let’s word up to rise up!
3. Pet Passengers: You don’t have to survive solely on a diet of tofu and veggies to support animals. In fact, Rodan & Mummery (2016) further discuss how animal welfare activism can take the simplest daily forms like wearing tee-shirts to promote animal rights, applying bumper stickers that advocate animals, shopping for change as far as fair trade and sustainable fashions that don’t harm animals, and other fundamental ideas (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293327989_Doing_animal_welfare_activism_everyday_questions_of_identity). Instead of booking bounce houses, spa parties, and lavish skating and princess parties every year for birthday celebrations, (yes, I am thinking of all the Kardashian bashes), consider having your tweens and teens ask for donations to a local shelter in the form of pet supplies and pet food in place of cards. Even my preschooler is excited when we gather supplies to donate to the local rescue non-profit. Pet passengers exhibit such love and loyalty to us on our life journeys, so what can we do to honor them today?
4. Green Lights to Go Green: Hit the gas when it’s a green light and go green by taking the bus and car pooling with friends, neighbors, colleagues, or family members at least once a week. We can also apply basic eco-friendly ways like bringing your own reusable straw, curb wasteful plastic bottles daily when you’re at the gym for that PiYo class by investing in a beverage bottle, etc. Recommendations from PR Newswire (2019) also favor ditching the coffee “pods for freshly ground coffee. Coffee pods and capsules generate hundreds of millions of pounds of packaging waste each year” (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/easy-tips-for-earth-day-300834030.html).
In closing, while road tripping on our journeys in life, clutch the kindness wheel a little closer today and extend love activism in one way today. American culture sways so heavily in favor of individualism that often makes us more apt to focus inward, only on ourselves and our own problems. According to Breit (2018) in Time.com, experts such as Tchiki Davis, psychologist and founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute, strongly emphasis kindness since “…the more we focus on other people, the more effective we are in terms of positivity. In a 2017 study by Oxford University, researchers found that performing acts of kindness for just seven days had a measurable, positive effect on well-being and positive social emotion” (http://time.com/5429498/how-to-be-more-positive-person/). Don’t wait for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or birthdays to call, write, or visit someone to show a kind act. Take the wheel today and steer serenely in your love activist lane!
Breit, C. (2018). 6 Ways to Instantly Be a More Positive Person. Time.Com, N.PAG. Retrieved from http://time.com/5429498/how-to-be-more-positive-person/
Rodan, D., & Mummery, J. (2016). Doing animal welfare activism everyday: questions of identity. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 30(4), 381. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293327989_Doing_animal_welfare_activism_everyday_questions_of_identity
RUSSO, S. (2019). Love Activism. USA Today Magazine, 147(2884), 66–67.