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A Year-Long Valentine: Love, Forgiveness, and Gratitude

Jan. 30, 2019 Psychology Today

Expectations can run high on Valentine’s Day. While many wish for hearts and flowers, whether one is in a relationship or single, February 14 can be stressful. By thinking in terms of give and take to balance expectations — in all relationships — a sense of calm is within reach. Here are some thoughts for a year-round Valentine. According to VanderDrift and Agnew, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

“Individuals balance tasks necessary to fulfill personal goals and to maintain their interpersonal relationships.” 

However, to do so might require a change in thinking.

Love and Forgiveness

In our heart of hearts we all know what we should be doing to bring harmony into our own life and the lives of those around us.  Ancient philosophers have long told us:

  • Speak kindly to everyone you meet. We all carry a heavy burden.
  • Wish blessings to others, even those who hurt you.
  • Be forgiving of everyone who has ever hurt you, and most especially forgive yourself instead of saying “Why didn’t I?”
  • Express your love to those whom you really love, instead of saying, “They know I love them”
  • Form the words, ” I love you.”
  • Remind yourself often throughout the day that those you love are a gift and you have no idea just how long they will be yours to cherish.
  • Let go of anger. 
  • Be kind. As Massachusetts poet, philosopher, and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson has said: “You cannot do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late.” 

For people looking for love, each year as Valentine’s Day approaches I think of the words of Leo Buscaglia, author of Love, who said that if we are waiting for the one and only, “I guarantee you’ll wait forever! There is no right person. You become the right person!”

In the hustle and bustle of our overly committed lives, do we ever remember to take time to listen for love instead of waiting for the “one and only” love ?

8 Ways to Approach Valentine’s Day

Sometimes we need to clear our heads and hearts so that we can hear love. Perhaps this Valentine’s Day, begin clearing the path for love. Here are ways to approach Valentine’s Day. 

  • Let go of worn-out friendships and relationships.
  • Break old patterns that really hinder your happiness.
  • Take a chance on an out-of-character relationship.
  • Be more forgiving of others without losing your sense of self or your values.
  • Laugh at yourself and be accepting of yourself.
  • Forgive your past love mistakes.
  • Move forward with a renewed sense of self and spirit.
  • Express gratitude to those around you.
    • “I am grateful for the days you lift my spirits when I’m sad.”
    • “I thank you for calling me when you are traveling.”
    • “I love when you send me an unexpected xoxo text.”
    • “I appreciate that you listen to me when I speak.”

Adapt an Attitude of Gratitude:

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology at University of California at Davis, reminds us often in his writings, as in interviews with him:

“Gratitude is an attitude, not a feeling that can be easily willed.” Even if you are not satisfied with your life as it is today, he pointed out, “if you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. It is like improving your posture and as a result becoming more energetic and self-confident.”

Dr. Emmons added: “Attitude change often follows behavior change. By living the gratitude that we do not necessarily feel, we can begin to feel the gratitude that we live.”

Love Thought:

If you have been hurt by love, be grateful for the experience and take a chance on embracing its mystery once again. Express love and gratitude on Valentine’s Day to family, friends, co-workers, children and to those who are lonely and need a smile from your heart. Smile at strangers who look sad. Just smiling alone makes us feel happier. The Duchene Smile. Then remind yourself that sharing joy, love, and understanding should be year ’round goals.

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