With Valentine’s Day approaching, many people who are single or in dysfunctional romantic relationships may be counting the days until they no longer have to be bombarded with flowers, teddy bears, and heart-shaped boxes wherever they go—at least for the next 11 months.
At the same time, those who are in thriving romantic relationships may be looking forward to spoiling and being spoiled by their lovers with the aforementioned flowers, teddy bears, and heart-shaped boxes.
It is true that romantic love is glorified on Valentine’s Day. And sure, why shouldn’t there be a day to celebrate it? After all, romantic love can be a wonderful thing.
However, the glorification and commercialization of romantic love around Valentine’s Day often makes us forget that love is universal—it surrounds us and is within us.
Whether you are single, you’re in a romantic relationship, it’s complicated, or none of the above apply to you, here are seven practices that can help remind us of the interconnection of all living beings, of the love that we have, and of the love that we are this Valentine’s Day.
Whatever issue you’re passionate about—be it education, women’s rights, mental health, animal welfare, or homelessness, to name just a few—find a way to get involved in a cause that’s bigger than you.
This could include donating money or materials, attending a walk or a protest, teaching a class, writing an article, cooking a meal, painting a mural, coordinating logistics for an event, or simply having a conversation with someone who might need your help.
Don’t underestimate the impact that your time and involvement can have on an individual or an entire population.
2. Talk to strangers.
So many of us are taught to be wary of strangers and to just mind our own business. But think about it: most of the people with whom we interact, either every day or on occasion, started off as strangers.
I know, we’re all busy, and there’s always something we “should” be doing. But sometimes it’s nice to take a break from our screens and have an actual face-to-face conversation with someone new. Whether it’s in line at the coffee shop, on your morning commute, in the elevator, or in the break room, talk to someone you’ve never talked to before.
You never know where the conversation might lead.
3. Reach out to someone from your past.
In a world where our life circumstances are constantly changing, it can be easy to lose touch with people from our past. Reach out to an old friend or acquaintance through email, snail mail, social media, or phone and see how they’re doing. Let them know that you’re thinking of them. Don’t let old connections die out.
4. Support local businesses.
Each time we support local businesses, we are directly contributing to someone’s livelihood and improving community well-being, both economically and culturally. In fact, 80 percent of each dollar spent at local businesses is returned to the community, thus supporting schools, parks, and social services. This isn’t the case when we shop from Amazon or other huge retailers!
You can support local businesses by purchasing their products and services or by promoting them within your network.
5. Enjoy a vegetarian or vegan meal.
Unfortunately, far too many of the meals that we enjoy and take for granted are detrimental to other living beings and the environment. By cutting back on meat and dairy and turning to more plant-based foods instead, we can play an active role in reducing water pollution, global warming, world hunger, and of course, the suffering of non-human animals.
6. Use social media to be, well, social.
It is easy to get caught up in using social media to self-promote and collect likes. But social media has an incredible power to create meaningful connections and make our world just a little bit smaller. In fact, this is the core premise on which the company for which I work, Konversai, was founded. Make an effort to engage more with other users on social media. You will probably be amazed at the commonalities you might discover and at how much you can learn from others by using social media intentionally.
While people in different parts of the world may struggle to understand each other’s words, expressions, gestures, or body language, a smile means the same thing in almost all cultures. There is no greater way to recognize our shared humanity and to celebrate universal love than by sharing a smile with the other beings around us.
Let’s all take some time this Valentine’s Day to remember that regardless of our relationship status, we all are loved, and we all are love. The practices above are simple ways that we can celebrate all the beautiful forms that this love can take.
Author: Pavita Singh
Image: Aiden Meyer/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman