How to Find Love on Valentine's Day

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St. Valentine’s Day.  What was your first reaction?  February 14th is a day that divides opinion – you either love it or loathe it.  For one day, the world is supposed to become flooded with modern day Romeos wooing their Juliets.   We’re encouraged to reveal our secret crushes, send cards, bestow flowers and romantic gestures on the objects of our affection.  Love is in the air, cupid cruising with his bow and arrow.

Personally, I don’t hold much affection for the Hallmark Holiday this has become; I find that once celebrations get tinged  by commercialism they lose their meaning.  I’ve spent too many years crammed into battery farm restaurants, nose to tail with 500 other nauseating couples, eating the overpriced menu and drinking the underwhelming cava.  However, St. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to think about love and how it fits into our lives – regardless of our romantic situation.

What is love?

Love is one of the most used and abused words in our language.  It is much more complex than the romantic love that St Valentine’s Day now emphasizes.  In its simplest form, love can be defined as a “profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person”.  Love is a feeling of concern, empathy and compassion towards another living creature.  When we feel love, just for a split second, we go outside our head and put ourselves firmly into the shoes of someone else.  We feel their pain, we share their joy, we put their interests on a level with ours.  Love in its purest form is about understanding how someone else feels.

Love is All Around

Take a walk around today and you’ll see love in unexpected places.  The patient mum caring for her screaming toddler, the group of friends sharing a joke on the bus, the young lady giving up her seat for the pensioner.  These actions are all based in love, a feeling of empathy for another person.  Love is a shared experience where people recognise that they are not the only person who matters in the world.

Almost every human belief system has a version of the maxim to love your neighbour as you love yourself.  This rule is never reserved for one day a year, it is for every day living.  Loving others helps to break the bubble of self-absorption that humans can develop.  It opens us up what is going on the world around us.  Showing love and compassion to others allows us to receive love in return.

Give a Little Piece of your Love

I think I’ve found my peace with St. Valentine.  The real St. Valentine was brutally stoned to death for protecting outlawed Christians in the Roman Empire.  He gave his own life to protect others, the ultimate act of love.  Two millennia later, his example has reinforced the importance of treating others with respect, compassion and care.  I’ve started to see love all around me in the simplest human moments.  I will strive to treat each person I encounter with the love that I would like to receive.  Not just today, but every day.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Photo credit: Mohsen

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  1. Phil
    February 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Where do you see love in the world?

  2. Alejandro
    February 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Oftentimes I choose Valentine’s Day as the day to privately and secretly hate happy couples….but, I have to admit, this note is making me re-think that strategy…maybe this time, all the way in cold, gloomy and lonely Columbus…I will recognize that seeing love in others is actually not a bad thing and will try to put my selfish jealousy aside :)

    Where do I see love? Oftentimes in places where emotions run ‘deep’ and people are gathered:

    - Hospitals
    - Airports – yes ‘Love Actually’ comes to mind
    - Weddings
    - Reunions
    - Funerals

    It’s harder to ‘see’ love when you are alone. It’s hard to picture a Valentine’s day celebration by yourself. It’s always in pairs….and because of that, this Sunday, its going to be all about me and my flat screen TV :)

  3. Phil
    February 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Alejandro -

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Love is not just romantic love, so use V Day to let others that you care about know. Spreading a little love always helps. Take care of yourself and see you soon.


  4. February 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    To use an overused word: I love it! As I said in my previous comment, love is where I prefer my starting point to be. It’s centering and comforting and I know it has transformed me (though I have a looong way to go) and how I see others and the world. I’ve seen love disarm some people who have a very tough exterior; its powers can’t be denied, but first, we have to choose it and trust it.

  5. Isavane
    February 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Phil! Loved this article! I love the love that flows unconditionally from kids. reminds we how jaded I am and how life just makes us restrict our emotions and reactions.

  6. February 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful post, Phil. I love how you remind us of the origins of valentine’s day. I’ve encountered the anti-valentine’s day theme today in my travels, and I don’t like the commercialization of this holiday, or any other. But I like the love part. And for me that goes beyond loving people. Don’t get me wrong, that is wonderful But on a day of love I also want to celebrate loving places, nature, ideas, art, culture. Loving life itself, I guess.
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..What the Super Bowl Taught Me About Life =-.

  7. Phil
    February 12, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Belinda -

    Starting from love is so powerful. I love your humility in realizing how far we all have to go, however you are clearly heading on the right path. You’re right that a little love an go a long way in changing the dynamic of a situation completely. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts.


  8. Phil
    February 12, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Thanks Isavane! Kids can teach us so much about the strength of love. This holiday is a great opportunity to start acting with love to everyone in our lives.


  9. Phil
    February 12, 2010 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Patty – a brilliant perspective. Loving life encompasses caring for the whole world around us. I think that is the ultimate way to approach the world and I really appreciate you adding that perspective. Thanks so much for adding to the post and sharing your thoughts. I always try to appreciate the infinite beauty of the natural world and of life itself and will be even more conscious of that now.

    Thank you


  10. February 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for a refreshing post on Valentine’s Day Phil! I too grumble every year when this Hallmark holiday makes it way around (and I’m happily married!) However your perspective on looking beyond romantic love helps me find the authentic sentiment behind the chocolate and the greeting cards.
    .-= Carly´s last blog ..Words of wisdom from Andrea Jung, Avon’s CEO =-.

  11. Phil
    February 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Carly – glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!


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