Valentine’s Day is often focused on receiving love—cards, flowers, gifts—grand gestures of another’s love and affection. But, instead of those gestures, I would like to shift the focus to giving love away on Valentine’s Day, or being the giver of love. While there are huge expectations, excitement, and disappointments related to Valentine’s Day, why not instead be the giver of love this year and set your goal on touching as many people in your life as you can? This can be loved ones, family members, friends, acquaintances, even a stranger. Give it away! And give it away generously!
While giving away love is definitely good for your relationships, it is also good for your overall health and well-being. In the Harvard Study of Adult Development which followed Harvard undergraduate males for almost 80 years, the study found that love is a key ingredient to a happy and satisfied life. It wasn’t about money or power, but significant relationships and connections appeared to be very important in one’s happiness and life satisfaction. It also found that close relationships serve as a protective factor against stress as well as mental and physical decline.
Giving Love Away as Therapy
This finding is not that surprising as this is the very basis of different psychological approaches such as marriage and family therapy (MFT). Marriage and family therapy believes that dysfunction is due to problematic relationships in one’s life and difficulties in interpersonal relations. Further, a major focus of therapy is often on issues related to relationships and interactions with others, whether that is with a parent, spouse/partner, child, family member, boss, co-worker, or others, and the therapeutic relationship is often an initial area where the reparative work begins. It is believed that we yearn for connection to others and is a basic human need similar to food, clothing and shelter.
How To Give Love Away
So, what are some things you can do to give away your love and sustain those close relationships?
Reach out. Whether it is in person or by text, e-mail, or phone, connect with one, two, or more individuals this year. Simply connect. It is so easy with all of our technological advances and only takes a few seconds to do. Perhaps even set a time where you will be able to spend together and strengthen the bonds that you already have.
Be appreciative. I think that most people like to be appreciated and acknowledged for who they are, what they do, or just because they have touched you in some way. Those small kindnesses go a long way in nurturing and sustaining meaningful relationships.
Bonding through food. For many cultures, food is often a center for rituals and gatherings, as well as being considered a gift of love and care from the person who is preparing it or giving it. The time and effort in preparing the food and spending the time “to break bread” together can be another way to connect and nurture those who we care about.
In the end, it seems that life is more about the people and relationships in our lives. Why not make this Valentine’s Day be about connecting with the people that you care about and letting them know they are being thought about this Valentine’s Day? Simply giving love away.
This Guest Author Blog was written by CSPP Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Debra Kawahara.
Debra M. Kawahara
Interim Asst. Dean for Academic Affairs
California School of Professional Psychology
Dr. Debra M. Kawahara earned her BA in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and earned her doctorate...