“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives” (C. S. Lewis).
AFFECTION IS NOT THE ONLY KIND OF LOVE, AND IT DOESN’T HAPPEN TO BE THE HIGHEST KIND, BUT AFFECTION IS STILL A VERY WONDERFUL THING. It is, as the American Heritage Dictionary describes it, “a fond or tender feeling toward another.” When we feel affection for someone, we not only love them, we like them. We like them with a warm, glowing desire. And the dictionary is probably right to include the word “tender.” When you find that the thought of being tender to a certain person is an inviting, pleasing thought, you’ve probably been bitten by the bug of affection.
Showing affection is indeed one of life’s most pleasurable experiences. And the good news is, there’s no shortage of people to whom we may be affectionate. They’re there for the finding, if we care to look. It’s certainly a fact that having our affection rejected is a painful ordeal. When you like someone and they don’t like you back, it hurts as much now as it did in the third grade, if not more. But we shouldn’t let that stop us from finding others — others to whom we can have “a fond or tender feeling.” Those folks are well worth looking for.
Affection, whether we’re showing it or receiving it, has a “warming” effect on us. Its enjoyment is like the enjoyment of a fireplace on a winter’s evening. It’s a pleasure mingled with many good things: warmth, security, friendship, fellowship, and, of course, love.
Without affection, many of our other character traits will be barren, and maybe dangerous. Think, for example, of the harm that’s often done by the person who tells the truth, but without any affection. Or demonstrates courage, but without any affection. Or shows leadership, but without any affection. Affection is the quality that keeps our strength and intelligence from becoming brutal. It’s one of the main keys to effectiveness and emotional health. So if we’ve been holding back, either in giving or receiving affection, today would be a great day to get started learning a little fondness and tenderness.
Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning
Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;
That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)