Optional, but Optimal


Margaret A. Brunson Ph.D., MPA

Recently, I was in conversation with a wise young man discussing monogamy in relationships. We both agreed that monogamy does not come naturally for most people and that it’s really a choice (and often a very difficult one).

He, then, used an analogy that inspired this post. He began his comment by stating, “just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s optimal”. As an example, he described the natural process by which we release waste from our bodies and that our natural inclination as humans is not to use the toilet but to use the outdoors. Over time, humankind invented our current septic system because it would not be an optimal way of life for any of us to walk around (excuse my language) shitting in the streets. Therefore, just because polyamory or maintaining multiple love interests comes naturally doesn’t mean it’s an optimal way of life.

As I reflected on that conversation for the next two days, at first, I reflected on my past relationships and how they ended because of decisions that created a suboptimal way of being. As my thoughts shifted towards a broader, more holistic approach to Love, I thought about this in the context of life.

Living a life of love means recognizing that perhaps what comes naturally to us isn’t the optimal, or best, way to live; that we have become prisoners of our own mentality, and as a result we find ourselves stuck. We resist and/or reject any way of living that might challenge our (limited) perspective or natural way of thinking often out of fear.

Living The Love Life is optional, but optimal. The Love Life is about recognizing the beauty and light in those around us and seeing our capacity to love them from a place of abundance. We so often love when we know that we will receive something in return. So, we often hold on to our love as if we will run out if we freely give it away. This is not exclusive to romantic relationships. There are people we walk past everyday who we naturally ignore and each time we don’t see them, it’s as if we made the choice to naturally release our waste in the street. There are people longing for and dying from a lack of hope, peace, and love. What if we were to take a moment to see them & offer a loving gesture? What if we made a different choice from our natural inclination to ignore?

You see, I believe that by making conscious decisions to be and live The Love Life, we are capable of changing our natural rhythms and inclinations. It is certainly optional to embrace the idea of living a life of love. However, when we decide to do so, we open up a world of possibilities that we never knew existed. Our very existence becomes one where love and purpose changes us and in turn transforms our communities.

Dr. Margaret A. Brunson is a trained executive leadership professional with over fifteen years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Master of Public Administration degree from North Carolina Central University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in leadership studies from North Carolina A&T State University.