Do the Right Thing

Spirit, science, and health

Expand Your View of Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be for lovers only.

Valentine’s Day can be such a mixed bag for many. Those in partnered relationships often feel disappointed that their relationships aren’t as romantic, magical, special, or hot as perhaps their perceived ideal. Hollywood and mass media in general may offer an image of romantic love that is unrealistic. Those not in romantic relationships may feel isolated, dejected, or just not very comfortable with joining in the V-Day celebrations. They may feel left out or uninvited. Those who have lost an important love figure through divorce, death, or severe illness may also feel depressed and unhappy on Valentine's Day. Sadly, this day of love can be a real bummer for many. The day not only highlights what you have in love but what you don't have or have lost in love too.  Certainly manintaining more realistic expectations about love could result in a better Valentine's Day for all but so could expanding our view about love and the holiday too. 

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Maybe we can expand our view of this special day to be more inclusive. Perhaps we can use Valentine's Day to celebrate love in all forms. We already use the day to acknowledge and celebrate romantic love as well as family love for parents and children. But perhaps it would be helpful to celebrate love in many more expansive forms too. This might include the love that we have for our friends, co-workers, pets, and even mankind and God. Who and what do you love and wish to celebrate? If we allow ourselves to celebrate love in all forms then perhaps there is something for everyone on February 14th. Additionally, if we focus on the many benefits of love perhaps we might be inspired to be more compassionate, kind, gracious, forgiving, and thoughtful to all.  Allowing yourself to focus on all forms of love may likely make you a better, kinder, and gentler person to boot. After all, more love is better than less love and the more loving we are the better world we'll likely create for all to enjoy. 

So consider being expansive with love this Valentine’s Day. Ask yourself who and what do you love and both celebrate and share that love as much as you can.

What do you think?  

Thomas Plante, PhD, ABPP, is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ University Professor at Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.

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