As I’ve confessed before, I’m a true romantic – I love love and think it’s absolutely brilliant to have a day devoted to celebrating it. In fact, let’s celebrate the hell out of love! However, I’m more than ready to replace the superficial, adolescent, Hallmark movie version with a healthier, more empowering, “grown up” Valentine’s Day.
Now, I fully acknowledge that there’s a certain sweetness in the roses, stuffed animals, candy hearts, etc. that are part of the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration. The problem is that the underlying messages about love are immature, unrealistic and, well…kind of silly. Essentially, we’re told that love is to be found in one special someone who demonstrates his/her love by showering us with gifts and attention. The grander the gestures, the more he/she loves us. And if, by chance, we aren’t partnered up, we’re made to feel unworthy, irrelevant and anxious about the prospect of being alone forever. Love is objectified and becomes an impossible ideal. Like I said…pretty silly.
Yet, despite how shallow and silly this notion of love is, far too many women – young and not so young – drive themselves fairly mad, searching for it, on Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year.
A far less glamorous notion, but one that, in my opinion, serves us far better, is the idea that love is a skill and, like all skills, it must be practiced.
It exists in all of us, so we can start by calling off the search; we won’t find it in someone else. It’s within us already and when we cultivate and grow it (in other words, when we “practice” it) it’s reflected back to us through others…that’s an important distinction. It’s also important to note that love might be reflected back to us in the form of a lover, but not necessarily. There are many forms of love and I believe they’re all worthy of celebration.
So the question becomes, how do we cultivate and “practice” love? How do we feed our ability to feel love and then allow it to drive our thoughts and actions? According to Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hahn, the only way to do this is to feed our own happiness:
“Each of us can learn the art of nourishing happiness and love. Everything needs food to live, even love. If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness.”
(~How to Love by Thich Nhat Hahn)
I love that! Imagine if that became the tone of Valentine’s Day – filling ourselves up and “nourishing our happiness” as opposed to looking to someone else to make us feel love.
How much more empowered would women feel? How many more women (single and partnered) would thoroughly enjoy the day? How much more joyful, passionate and inspired would women be? And how much more love would we, collectively, pour out into the world?
Now that’s what I call a celebration of love! Are you in??
If so, here’s a short list of ways to nourish your happiness and design an unforgettable, Grown Up Valentine’s Day this year. Of course, there are many more things that one can add to this list and I encourage you to spend some time thinking about what lights you up (it’ll be different for everyone), but I hope that this list gets your juices flowing:
- Begin the day with a heart-opening meditation. If you prefer guided meditations, you can find many beautiful ones on YouTube and Hay House Radio. Find one you like and give yourself the gift of a few minutes of quiet contemplation and appreciation.
- Commit to a day of non-judgement. Don’t judge others and don’t judge yourself. When you feel a critical thought rising in you, forgive yourself and simply move on (don’t allow yourself to ruminate on the negative thought).
- Dress up and wear your favorite perfume. For nobody but you. Wear something that makes you feel gorgeous, give yourself a spritz and strut your stuff!
- Greet everyone you see with a smile.
- Take yourself out to a favorite lunch spot.
- Go for a walk and look for things to appreciate along the way – the sky, a flower garden, your sneakers, the shop windows, etc.
- For every compliment you give someone else, give one to yourself.
- Browse the bookshop for as long as you like.
- Carve out time for Afternoon Tea. Just sit and savor.
- Call someone you admire and tell them.
- Have someone (preferably a teenage girl) give you a lesson in taking selfies, then snap a few just for fun.
- Make yourself a decadent dessert (this one is my personal fave!)
- Make a “Grown Up Valentine’s Day” playlist 😉
- Pop some champagne and toast yourself!
I hope that this inspires you and, if you know others who might appreciate a new approach to Valentine’s Day, please share this post.
However you choose to spend the day, I wish you much happiness, peace and love,