The way I see it, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers. It’s a day for remembering love in its many forms and, whether or not we are partnered, we can romance our lives all the time with simple practices that cultivate meaning, joy and a sense of abundance. Pick one or two that appeal to you, and let the love affair begin…
Create rituals – Ritual is sorely missing from most people’s lives, as the demands of modern society and electronic communications tug and distract us from inner stillness. Daily rituals can include journaling, prayer, exercise, meditation, writing a gratitude list, setting intentions, playing with pets or regularly making time to simply sit, breathe and savor the good. And don’t forget the pleasure of enjoying meals with people you love. Rituals are about consistently unplugging from the business of life to honor what is personally meaningful, sacred and valuable. Lighting candles or incense and playing soothing music can enhance your rituals, if that feels inviting…
Go play – Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, advises those who want to recover their creative gifts to take an Artist Date each week. It’s meant to be done alone, with no purpose other than to “refill the well” of inspiration, images and sensory pleasures. These self-directed play dates can include museum trips, concerts, classes, aimless neighborhood strolls, walks in nature, visits to unusual shops and florists, finger painting in the kitchen and dancing in the living room. Invite your inner child to set the agenda.
Savor the good – The growing field of Positive Psychology recommends this practice as a way to improve mood and prime the brain for more positivity. It simply involves focusing on what’s good in our lives and saturating the mind (and heart) with appreciation for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. Throughout the day, pause to savor the good in your life, including creature comforts, special people, simple joys and natural beauty. Pay attention to what life is constantly offering, even, or especially, during stressful times.
Fluff your nest – Author Cheryl Richardson uses the term “soul nourishing” to describe the kind of home that she wants to inhabit. It means living in a space that reflects what you love and value, with colors, fabrics, art and objects that delight and comfort. Clearing clutter is fundamental to the process of creating a home that feels welcoming. It fosters calm and a sense of spaciousness, while making room for new things. Start small, keep it manageable and reward yourself for letting go of what no longer serves you.
Eat with love – The practice of mindful eating is good for digestion, sleep, energy and maintaining ideal weight. It’s also good for the soul. Pick one meal a week to eat mindfully, turning off any screens and sitting in silence or with relaxing music. Give thanks for the food and the elements and people that made the meal possible, and chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing, appreciating the taste, texture and nourishment. Stop eating when you feel fullness arising and take a few moments to digest the whole experience before moving on to your next activity. Eventually, try bringing this consciousness to more meals, and even that morning cup of coffee or tea.
Pat yourself on the back – It’s easy to go through life on fast-forward, moving from one activity or achievement to the next and striving for new opportunities without pausing to acknowledge what we’ve done. While self-improvement is a worthy pursuit, it’s important to periodically note all that you’ve already accomplished in life. Try saying, “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough,” and remember to honor your strengths and talents, especially the ones that are easy to take for granted. Another powerful exercise involves writing a letter to yourself that begins with “I love you for…” and later changes to “I forgive you for…” as a way to boost self-esteem and free up energy.
Give thanks, often – Cultivating gratitude, another fundamental Positive Psychology practice, nurtures a lasting romance with life. Whether it’s writing about or reciting things you are thankful for, or remembering to give thanks for any misfortune that did not happen and what is no longer a problem, there is always something for which to be grateful. An “attitude of gratitude” can create an immediate state of abundance, and sweetness that lasts longer than a box of fancy chocolates.
Got your own self-love suggestion? If so, I’d love to hear about it, below…
Kim Childs is a Certified Positive Psychology Life, Career and Wellness Coach. Click here to learn more and schedule a free initial consultation in person or over the phone.
(Note: This post was written for Kripalu’s Thrive and also appears here.)