THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS ON VALENTINE’S DAY
Valentine’s day should be about giving, not receiving; furthermore giving meaningful things not material
Valentine’s day is over, I know. But, next year maybe think about how you will change the narrative.
On a scale of 1 to 10 that asks about your happiness on valentine’s day, with 10 being “I’ve been looking forward to this since Christmas” and 1 being “I want all black sweetheart candies with little skulls and crossbones to throw at people’s heads,” where do you stand with this day?
Holidays can be tough, and perhaps none more so than February 14th. Maybe you’re single and not by choice. Maybe your special someone is deceased or far away. Maybe you’re in a relationship but it’s not going well and the added pressure to be lovey-dovey only makes it worse. Even if you’re happy in your love life, the saccharine melodrama of cherry-filled chocolates and pink teddy bears could still make you want to throw up. What is this day even about focusing on each’s happiness on Valentine’s day? To find out why so many people hate Valentine’s Day, we decided to ask someone we knew who loved it. Her answers were surprising and illuminating.
“It was always the one day of the year where it was culturally appropriate for me to be overflowing with love for people,” said this mother and Montessori preschool teacher who also started her own skincare line based on unconditional love. Growing up in a society that often felt tinged with Victorian coldness, February 14th offered the chance to express her feelings openly by making valentines for family members and other kids in her class, a tradition she continued into adulthood.
Interestingly, the first year she celebrated Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend was actually a letdown. “Instead of focusing on giving love to others, I was waiting for him to do something special for me and it was just a disappointment,” she recalls. Another low point came the year she was living alone in a bad part of Los Angeles and didn’t really have any friends. She decided to make the best of it by sharing her love with one of the homeless people she regularly saw in the neighborhood, so she brought him some candies and wished him a happy V-day. But he only replied, “No thanks, I’m not eating sugar right now.” She felt so foolish and sad! Fortunately, now she is surrounded by people she can shower with love, including her husband and young daughter.
This person’s wisdom offers a simple lesson: the secret to happiness on Valentine’s Day is to focus on giving rather than receiving! Which, let’s be honest, is a big secret to happiness throughout the year. Who can you show love to, who’s day can you brighten? It doesn’t have to mean setting up a romantic candlelit dinner with your soul mate, although that could be nice too. Maybe this Valentine’s Day you’ll just call your grandmother, or tell a friend five things you appreciate about them, or give a big tip to someone who does a valuable service to you, or compliment a stranger. Or you know what? Maybe the person who needs your love most right now is YOU.
So much of our disappointment in life comes from looking for something outside ourselves when really we should be finding it within. At the top of that list is unconditional love. The mystic poet Rumi wrote, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Perhaps the deeper reason we struggle with Valentine’s Day is all the walls we have built around our hearts, which we hope will protect us from the blows that life deals us, but ultimately just leave us feeling cut off. Turning a gentle kindness inward, forgiving our own shortcomings and offering ourselves all the care and understanding we seek from others, can help us deconstruct those walls. Little by little, we start opening up to give and receive love in all its many forms. And while this can be a surprisingly painful journey, developing unconditional love for ourselves will naturally make it spill out onto others.
This year let’s expand our definition of V-Day. Let’s find meaningful expressions of love to people in our circles, whether romantic, platonic, filial or spiritual. And if what feels right is to deeply cherish ourselves with unconditional love on this day, then let’s make that the priority. Join us on the UWB platform and learn to love yourself by discovering all the tools you need to realize your best self…then go out and share that love with others!