So the box of chocolates is half-eaten and the roses are old news… Now what?? If you’re like most people, today was back to the regular routine and we’ll all wait 364 more days to celebrate love.
But why? Shouldn’t we celebrate love every day? Share and feel love in each moment? With everyone?
A decade ago, this would have seemed like a radical idea to me. When I was in college and then married, I LOVED Valentine’s Day because I thought it was for couples. The doorbell rang all day long at the sorority house with flower deliveries, and since I had a boyfriend, I felt a sigh of relief that one of them would be for me. But after I got divorced, it was a whole different story. I dreaded February 14. Would I have a date? Could I get a boyfriend by February? Maybe I could just date that guy until Valentine’s Day was over!?!
And then I discovered a new definition of love. Through volunteering, building deep friendships and learning about A Course in Miracles from Marianne Williamson, I learned that love is open-hearted warmth for all. Not the passionate love of the fairy tales and soap operas that I grew up on, but compassionate love for humanity. Love is being kind, open and tender – to everyone. We can love our neighbors, our friends – even strangers. And when we feel loving connection, we are happier, healthier and more fulfilled.
The good news is that all of us can have more love in our lives – every day. One of my favorite positive psychology researchers, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, teaches that love isn’t prolonged adoration (as I’d always thought), but rather, love is micro-moments of connection. Micro-moments. Of connection. This means that when I share a smile with someone on the subway, when I laugh with the grocery cashier, when I hug my sister, I’m increasing love in my life. So by giving love, I increase my capacity to receive love. And the cycle continues. As we build more love in our lives, individually and collectively, we heal. We flourish.
Here are 5 quick ways to expand love every day:
- Give Gratitude: Write a short thank you note to your mom, friend, partner, postman or garbage collector thanking him or her for all they do!
- Smile and Speak: When you pass by a neighbor on the street or check out at the store, look in the person’s eyes, smile and say “hello”. (It’s that simple!)
- Hug with Heart: Research shows our skin needs touch and that hugs increase happiness. So hug someone (or 8 people) today and feel the joy.
- Listen Intently: When a loved one shares a story, news or a challenge, actively listen. Ask questions, nod, offer support and encouragement.
- Praise People: One of my favorite things to do is to tell another woman that I love her outfit. It always makes her smile. Try it and feel the love!
So on February 15 and April 27 and June 3 and – well, every day before, after and in between, let’s love like it’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s give, receive and share love with everyone! And then maybe next February 14, we’ll worry less about cupid and candy, and celebrate more connection and community.