February 14th has been established as Valentine’s Day since 496 AD, and has been associated with romantic love ever since the Middle Ages, when dating and courtly love were vogue. And many of the Valentine’s Day traditions we love most – giving chocolates or sweets, presenting a loved one with flowers, and making homemade cards – have been around since the 15th Century. Hundreds of years later, Valentine’s Day is still ingrained in society as a great excuse to indulge in sappy, sentimental, over-the-top gestures of love we wouldn’t normally engage in. But what would the world be like if Valentine’s Day had never been set aside all those centuries ago as the day for love? And what do we do if we just can’t find love in our lives, even on February 14th?
The term “love” gets used a lot – so much so that we feel inadequate when we can’t find love for ourselves. There’s no magic list of criteria you can decode to figure out where to discover love, yet we always know when we have it and when we’re lacking it. It’s a complicated, yet beautiful thing that we just can’t get enough of. But for those of you who are feeling a lack of love, here’s the good news: We can build a world where it flourishes. We can make love every day.
So how do we build a place where love thrives? It’s all about starting with the right architectural vision. Having a strong foundation of optimism is crucial; it’s what will allow you to see the beauty in situations good and bad, which is key to bringing together your other building materials. Once you’ve laid that positive flooring, you’ll soon begin to notice that a framework of gratitude, self-worth and kindness builds up naturally around you. Compassion will fill out the space between the walls, and other positive emotions such as happiness and joy will add splashes of color to the space you’ve created. You’ll even see creativity, faith and honesty move in. It’s within these walls and amid these other emotions that love will settle and thrive.
So whether it’s Valentine’s Day or a typical Monday, fill your day with optimism, gratitude and old-fashioned kindness. It’s your job to make love when you feel there’s not enough of it around you, and all you need are the right building blocks.
Take out a pen or pencil and a piece of paper, and set a timer to 3 minutes. On one side of the paper, draw love. This is purposefully abstract; the point is for you to engage your right brain and visualize what love means to you. When the 3 minutes is up, take a quick look at what you’ve drawn. Then, set the timer for 3 more minutes, flip over your sheet of paper and make a list of the traits or actions that would help increase the amount of love in your life. Keep this sheet of paper with you as a reminder that love is something you can foster in your own life.
Happiness is an inside job®
From the Harvesting Happiness blog archives, originally published February 5, 2013