Hating vs. Loving: a personal note

A book that changed my life in 2002 is Living, Loving and Learning, by Leo Buscaglia, which taught my hard-ass, repressed tough guy soul that I was doing things that made me, and those around me, unhappy. My big crime was being more comfortable hating than loving.

Any time you hate something there is a choice. You can focus on the hate, and outrage, and self-righteousness, or you can find the opposite of the thing you hate, and focus on loving that more.

If you betray me as a friend, I can fixate on my anger at you, or I can think about all the friends I have who have never betrayed me, and go thank and honor them. Why focus on how much you hate a book, when you can just as easily go back and remember and share other books that you love? If the friend or book disappointed you so much, why are aren’t using that as fuel to go back and appreciate the good you now realize you’re lucky to have? (An authorial gripe is it’s fine if you hate my books and write negative reviews, but please at least mention a better one so people can get what they were looking for?).

Hate is easy. Destroying things takes much less work than making them, always has and always will. Hate is also less fulfilling and isolating than love, since all it says is what someone or something is not, instead of what it is or could be. Boycotting and banning are attempts to stop something, and stopping bad things is good – but these activities always make me think why not use that energy to go support and promote something good that deserves move love?

In many cultures hate and judgement are safer to express than love (e.g. American men prove we’re close friends by finding funny/mean insults for each other, rarely ever saying out loud how much we care about each other). It’s common in repressed, dysfunctional families or organizations for anger and criticism to be confused with love when it’s the only thing that the parents or leaders provide – anger is still a kind of attention. Kids are genetically programmed to believe their parents love them, so if all they get is negative attention when young, they equate that with what should have been love (and often wander through life confused about what a healthy relationship is like). In some workplaces the dynamics are not that different. If all you know are negative kinds of expression, that’s all you’ll express even when you’re trying to love, and on it goes.

What I got from Buscaglia’s book, which I’d never believed before, was that people who can love more openly, especially in the face of those quick with sarcasm like myself, are the bravest and most positive forces our species probably has (I foolishly assumed they were weak, but yet why did I have so much fear about resistance do doing what they did?). You’ll always find many people happy to hate in the open, but you can’t negate hate with hate. But every now and then you can turn it around, or slow hate down, with the genuine positive expression of love. Only when hate is out of the way can progress start to happen.

I’m not saying not to express hate. I’m still angry now and then. It’s therapeutic, it’s fun and can be a way to bond with someone for the first time – but I’m careful not to let myself end with anger alone. If I hate something, once I’m done tearing tearing it to shreds even if just in my own mind, I force myself to look for something with the opposite traits of the thing I hated and show it some love. I can’t express how profoundly this has changed my life for the better.

[This is one of the 30 essays on philosophy and life found in Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds]

11 Responses to “Hating vs. Loving: a personal note”

  1. Livia Labate

    Very nice sentiment Scott. One book that helped me in a similar way was Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the box which focuses on how we externalize blame, assigning it to others whether we are concious about it or not and what processes we use to justify it to ourselves. I think it goes hand in hand with the emphasis on hate versus love.

  2. Dan

    “but these activities always make me think why not use that energy to go support and promote something good that deserves more love?”


    Never thought of that perspective…

    That book has been on my reading list for a good year now and keeps getting put off. I think I’ll have to get it now. Thanks!

  3. Kav Latiolais

    The one and two star reviews for Buscaglia’s book are hilarious. Some highlights:
    “And it is suppose to be a book about unconditional love yet there is many condition. For example: Love cares, Love gives, Love say yes, etc. The cares, give and “say yes” are condition.”

    “One of the book point was “Learn to trust again” and “Love trust”. If that one point was able to by pass your conscious mind defense and into your subconscious mind, it can wreck havoc to your human computer (Mind).”

    “Life is a battlefield, and we are the soldiers. Choose a side and keep your eye on your enemy.”

    It must be hard to live in their worlds.

  4. Helen

    You’re right: hate is easy. It’s a great book. Thanks for sharing with us!
    You are doing a really great job! Keep walking :)

  5. benny

    Awesome Blog (even if its awhile back posted) on hate and its deceptive ways around love Scott!

    The book on- “Anatomy of Peace” published after the Leadership and Self-Deception also spreads towards a more family-based inspiring story; down to earth reflecting on love and hate at the next level of resolving conflicts.

    Glad to have shared with you!

  6. öö

    It is always better to hate than love.



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