"Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely." (Quote by Adam Smith). There is nothing new here actually. If you think about it, the father of economics had said what we knew all along.
Our desires are innumerable, that's for sure. But to be loved and to be lovely are the goals of humanity. What is new (and refreshing) here is that he said it about 250 years ago and it still resonates deep within us. In fact being lovely resonates deeper than to be loved. Let me explain.
We may be loved for all the most superficial reasons. A superstar may be loved for a night of mind-blowing performance but he leads a deplorable life of drug, booze and sex. A politician may be loved after an electoral victory but his promises fall flat thereafter. And a preacher may be loved for his fiery pulpit messages but he lives not the life he preaches.
So to be loved is a response mostly from outer appearance but to be lovely calls for something far deeper and more authentic. It is the highest goal of mankind. It is what we are called to aspire towards. To be lovely is to be virtuous, humble, honest and kind, and allowing the fruits of our character to come shining through from within. And when we strive to be lovely, we are loved for the right reason. This reminds me of the saying that not everything beautiful is good but everything good is always beautiful. And what is good is an enduring beauty that arises within that makes what is merely beautiful pales in comparison.
For this reason, there is also a distinction between deserving to be loved and worthy of love. We may deserve to be loved because of what we do or say. That is "performance love" in my book. It is a reward to be loved. It is conditional to our outward expression. A superstar, politician and preacher come to mind here. They are public personalities and what they project may differ greatly from what they try desperately to hide.
In other words, there is a discernible gap between what they show and who they really are. Now being worthy of love (unlike being deserving of love) goes far deeper because it is authentic love and not performance love. That is what I mean by the beauty of good and not just being beautiful (outward appearance). For me, being worthy of love is an end in itself. It is the ultimate purpose of humanity. And love-worthiness is a life dedicated to developing virtues and not a life groomed for the most superficial and materialistic goals.
It is a lifetime of cultivated inner strength and resilience that defies and transcends fads, fashion, trends and culture. It is therefore not a means to a more popular and self-enriching end but it is in itself a reward to deep fulfillment and enduring contentment. Such a life shines brighter and longer because it is generous to a fault as it sees mistakes as stepping stones and not a millstone hung over one's neck. It is also humble and patient because it does not take things for granted and believes that every person blooms at his/her own time. It is principles-driven because it endorses timeless principles and has a moral center.
I therefore challenge you to strive for being worthy of love and not just deserving of another's love, for what is good and not just what is beautiful, and to be lovely and not just to be loved. Cheerz.