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Beyond romance: 5 ways to practice daily loving-kindness

Spirit

Beyond romance: Five ways to practice daily loving-kindness this Valentine's Day & throughout the year

Those delicious little conversation hearts come around once a year - but loving-kindness is far from seasonal.

Valentine's Day is known for its abundance of heart-shaped calories, prix fixe menus and overpriced roses. For many, it can also conjure up feelings of loneliness and disappointment. Take a moment to pause from the pressure of Valentine's Day expectations and use this holiday as a reminder to practice loving-kindness instead. Unlike romantic love, loving-kindness is the desire to take action and help others - even strangers - and yourself. And not just on Valentine's Day, but every day of the year.

Here are five examples that don't require Cupid's arrow (though chocolates are completely optional):

  1. Express gratitude. Educators, fire fighters, police officers and volunteers are a few examples of people who dedicate their lives to helping others on a daily basis. Take a few moments to write a thank-you letter to someone in your community who makes a difference. If you have children, get them involved by drawing a picture or signing their name. If possible, hand-deliver the letter and express your thanks in person.
  2. Acknowledge yourself. Every evening, write down two to three positive things about yourself and your life. Maybe it's a personal trait that you're grateful for; perhaps it's an accomplishment you experienced at work or at home. Email your list to yourself and read it the next morning to start your day feeling motivated, uplifted and happy.
    Never underestimate the power of a home-cooked meal. Next time you're making dinner, plan on preparing an extra portion to take to someone in need - whether it's an elderly neighbor who could use a hand or a local shelter. An extra platter of lasagna or a warm batch of cookies goes a long way.
  3. Give meaningful compliments. A few seconds can make someone's entire day. Whether it's acknowledging a pretty scarf or a job well done, giving kudos sends feelings of positivity and happiness in both directions. Aim to compliment at least two people every day.
  4. Disconnect. The internet and social media undoubtedly make up a huge part of our lives - and it's often hard to put the phone down. Take a break by putting your device out of reach for at least an hour to focus on "real time," intentional moments - engaging in deep conversation with a friend, savoring every bite of a delicious meal or taking a relaxing walk after a long day. If you feel tempted to document the moment on Instagram, don't. This is your time. Keep it intentional and focused.

We encourage you to use loving-kindness to navigate life and bring more peace and joy into your everyday. Do you already practice loving-kindness? Share your ideas with us below!