Has a holiday ever caused so much unhappiness? I’m not talking about how it was when we were kids. Then it was all about giving everyone in class a paper valentine and those little heart candies. Though kids could get mean about that too if left to their own devices, like leaving out the kids nobody talked to.
As adults, we’re supposed to be more equipped to deal with that stuff, but it takes a stalwart sort to withstand the collective anxiety in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, let alone the day itself.
If you’re not in a relationship, the ads for jewels and bouquets and V-Day menus seem to be mocking your lack of a BF. if you’re in a relationship, it’s sadly easy to get caught up in expectations, and there’s nothing less romantic than thinking, ‘what’s he going to get me, and it had better not be cheap or unromantic.’ Or ‘Is he going to take me out, and somewhere good for a change?’ or even worse, ‘Is he finally going to propose?’
It’s enough to make you want to go underground till February 15.
But don’t despair: you can get through it. Not by hiding and pretending there’s no such thing as the dreaded V-Day. But by embracing the true message behind the holiday and making Feb. 14 your own, empowering, feel-good holiday, regardless of your relationship status.
What is the true message behind Valentine’s Day? And I mean the message that got buried under commercialism, attention-seeking, materialism, competition, and other unwholesome stuff. Here it is:
LOVE ALREADY LIVES INSIDE OF YOU, REGARDLESS OF YOUR PARTNER OR LACK THEREOF.
• Yes, I mean you.
• This love is yours, and no one can take it away from you.
• This love is the most empowering, transformative force in the world.
• This love is your key to happiness.
• This love empowers you to spread happiness to others.
And so, without further ado, here are:
14 Ways to own and share the love (and transform February 14):
Hint: you can start doing any or all of the following right now and in any order; no need to wait for February 14th!
1. Share the love by smiling at a fellow human being.*
• Your intention should be to bring some brightness to the person you are smiling at.
• Smile at someone who looks like he/she could use a smile today. Smile at the person standing next to you in the elevator. Or the person who waits on your table, rings up your purchase, or cleans your office.
• When you smile, mean it.
• Don’t feel rejected if the person doesn’t smile back. In our nose-in-a-screen, walled-off world, it can sometimes be so surprising that an actual human smiles at us that we don’t react in turn and regret it later. Or we might be locked into a state of crankiness (and don’t know what to do with an attempt to nudge us out of it). No matter what the response, know that you’ve made a difference in that person’s day.
• * Your smile is a precious gift. Be discerning with it. Trust that little voice inside, aka intuition. That means you should not smile at that creepy person at the UPS store who gives you the shivers whenever he turns his eyes on you.
2. Share the love by petting a dog or a cat*
According to the Mayo Clinic, “animal-assisted therapy can help healing and lessen depression and fatigue.” But you don’t have to check into a hospital to get a dose of animal therapy:
• Take a walk around your neighborhood and greet a dog on a walk (ask the owner’s permission to pet the dog).
• You may see a friendly cat in your neighborhood as well.
• Silently or verbally tell the dog or cat that he is a good boy or she is a good girl. This is a perfect way to express love for an animal along with your gentle touch.
• Thank the dog or cat for any kisses you receive! Animals love this, too.
• If you really want to spread the love, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. Dogs and cats need cuddles, too. Especially while they’re waiting for their forever home.
• *Again, discernment is key. Not every dog or cat, no matter how cute, wants to be petted.
3. Share the love by walking a dog.
• Did you know that animals who are kept in shelters or who do not get enough exercise can be very depressed, and that your walking them will not only brighten their day immeasurably, but also brighten yours?
• Try a service like walkzee, or just Google your local animal shelter and offer your services.
• Or ask a neighbor if you can take their dog for a walk. You may be doing her, as well as her pet, an enormous favor.
4. Own the love by treating yourself to mood-elevating essential oils.
The highest quality and most powerful essential oil products I have ever encountered come from an amazing place called dharmaceuticals. I diffuse oils in my Muji, sniff them straight from the bottle, bathe in them, and/or wear them as perfume. It’s all good.
• When I’m feeling sad, my favorite go-to essential oil blends are Lift-Me-Up or Euphoric. Instant joy.
• When I’m feeling not so great about myself, I reach for Esteem or God/dess Within or Heart. Magic!
• If I’m feeling jealous or envious, Double Happiness is just the thing.
5. Share the love by giving generously.
• Do it with a smile and a wish that what you give brings happiness to the recipient.
• That could mean offering a five-dollar bill to the homeless guy you pass on the way to your office.
• Or donate those books you never read anymore to your local library for their next fundraising book sale.
• There’s a wonderful book called Do One Nice Thing that has tons of ideas of little things you can do (many low cost or no cost) that can benefit kids, soldiers serving overseas, families, and more.
• Or send a check or credit card donation to your local homeless shelter. My favorite local charity is Union Station Homeless Services.
• Or send a check or credit card donation to a charity that gives books to children. My favorite book charity is First Book.
• Or send a check or credit card donation to the charity of your choice.
6. Share the love by sharing your skills with others.
• You could spend Valentine’s Day volunteering for a worthy project (a lot better than feeling sorry for yourself). Google “Valentine’s Day volunteering,” and a ton of listings will come up.
• Or look around you for less formal ways to share your skills. That could mean helping a work colleague with a procedure that you’ve mastered and he’s struggling with.
• Or teaching your nephew how to play the guitar.
• Or sharing the recipe for your famous gazpacho with a friend.
7. Share the love by making a silent wish or prayer, at least once a day, for the benefit of at least one other being on the planet.
• Wish that being (human or animal) a long life, happiness, good health, or all three.
• Imagine that the stranger or other person you just made the wish for experiences a moment of perfect happiness as you silently make your wish.
• You never know; someone may be doing this for you, too!
8. Own the love by appreciating your body, part 1: Say thank you.
• If you’re obsessing on what you see as your physical flaws, thank that body part for the good it provides.
• For example, if you’re obsessing about crow’s feet around your eyes, thank your crow’s feet for being a sign of all the times you laughed and smiled, and thank all the people and things that inspired you to laugh and smile.
• If you’re wishing for thinner thighs, thank the thighs you have for taking you on walks, helping you lift heavy packages, enabling you to cross your legs, and giving you a way to sit on a chair!
• Check out the book Love Your Body by Louise Hay. It’s powerful stuff.
9. Own the love by appreciating your body, part 2: Add a bit of exercise to your day.
• This works like magic to lift your spirits. Not to mention burning calories and toning muscles.
• All you need is a 30-minute walk or spin on the stationary bike. Or a Bollywood dance video.
• Make it fun! Listen to an audiobook while you walk. Watch a movie on the stationary bike. Learn some dance moves you’ve always wanted to learn.
10. Own the love by letting go of some of your anger.
• Whether you’re angry at the guy who dumped you or cheated on you, the guy who didn’t love you back, your friends who flaunt their Valentine’s Day plans, or your mom for divorcing your dad, it’s time to stop carrying around that huge burden of anger.
• How, you may ask? Check out this beautiful set of insights and instructions on how to let anger go and let love in.
11. Own the love by making gratitude lists.
• If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, lift your spirits by forcing yourself to list who and what you are grateful for.
• Be specific. For example, if you’re grateful for a particular person in your life, list all the things about that person that you’re grateful for.
• Notice your surroundings: What do you see, smell, touch, hear, taste that you’re grateful for?
• Acknowledge life experiences: What have you learned, experienced, been through that you’re grateful for?
• Consider your plans and intentions: Even if it’s something as mundane as going to the grocery store and doing laundry, summon gratitude for the food, the transportation that takes you there, the electricity that powers the washing machine, and so on.
• Guess what? A low mood has no chance in the face of all this gratitude.
12. Own the love by making a Valentine’s Day movie/tv list, and start watching now.
• Treat yourself to at least one movie or tv episode a night, making sure that it’s something that leaves you feeling uplifted. Chances are your favorites can be found on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and/or Amazon instant video.
• My go-to’s include Gilmore Girls, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually, Notting Hill, Pride and Prejudice (my fave is the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version), Persuasion (my fave is the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version), Bride and Prejudice (note: the soundtrack is delightfully mood-elevating), Still Crazy, and Never Been Kissed. I could go on and on…hmmm, this may merit a post of its own.
13. Own the love by making a Valentine’s Day reading list, and start reading now.
• Treat yourself to at least one book (fiction or nonfiction) that celebrates the power of love and friendship. If you don’t already have a comfort read of your own, ask your local librarian for suggestions. My feel-good go-tos include Persuasion or Northanger Abbey or anything else by Austen. I also love The Journeys of John and Julia: Genesis by aurelia, Anne of Green Gables, and anything by Gayle Forman.
• Make sure you’ve got that book with you at all times (on paper or on your smartphone), so that you can read during every spare moment you’ve got (coffee break at work, waiting in the supermarket checkout). The object is to keep your mood uplifted as much as possible till V-Day is over.
• Consider purchasing at least one of your books at your local indie bookstore. Not only will it get you out of the house, but these stores have frequent author events, perfect for attending all by yourself. You’ll make an author happy by your very presence, and you may even meet a fellow book lover.
14. Own and share the love by making a Valentine’s Day plan, and have everything in place to follow it.
• If you’re not in a relationship, see if you can share V-Day with another single friend, and make sure all is in place to have a fabulous time together: movies, food, makeovers, or whatever else you both desire.
• If you’re not in a relationship and don’t have a friend to share the day with you, think of what might lift your spirits, and have it all ready for the big day: diffuser with uplifting essential oils, a clean bathtub for a rejuvenating bubble bath, favorite movies and foods, a book that transports you to a happy place.
• If you’re in a relationship, suggest to your partner that you swear off material madness and embrace the romantic spirit of the day. You can decide to gift each other with an experience that you mutually decide upon—watching favorite romantic movies, getting spectacular takeout, taking turns giving each other massages, you name it. In any case, talk it out together and make sure you are both on board with the plan and that you are harboring no hidden resentments.
Now you’re all set–enjoy every moment!
Wishing you lots of love and happiness!!!
Great ideas for Valentine’s Day. Yes, Valentine’s Day is much more than just flowers and chocolate – acts of kindness are much more effective and lasting. Thanks for the great suggestions.