A month to give love
February. The month of endless winter, when our hearts start wishing for spring skies, sunshine and warmer days. February in the U.S. also means Valentine’s Day, which is a whole THING in itself. Valentine’s Day feels like a consumer holiday created to remind people how to spend money, after the belt-tightening of January following all the retail crazy of the holiday season. Americans spend more than $25 billion in revenue for Valentine’s Day each year. Jewelry sales in America jump nearly 40% in February. According to Hallmark, 145 million greeting cards are exchanged in the U.S. alone. So yeah, it’s a holiday many retailers love.
But. For many people February is a tough month and being knocked over the head with hearts and lovey-dovey messages and romantic gifts only makes it worse. Many people have an incredibly difficult time on Valentine’s Day, either because they are single and lonely, unsuitably paired, or missing a lost loved one. It’s a day with a high rate of suicide - a lot of people spend the day feeling lonely and depressed, not loved. Additionally, for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) the short days and lack of sunlight in February can make it one of the worst months to stimulate an overproduction of melatonin, making them feel sluggish, sleepy and depressed or anxious. That’s some heavy lifting for the shortest month and a holiday supposedly focused on love!
I always hated Valentine’s Day because it put an enormous (and artificial) pressure for ALL THE ROMANTIC LOVE GESTURES ON ONE SINGLE ARBITRARY DAY. Like, for YEARS I abhorred V-Day and actively opposed giving cards or gifts. I was firmly anti-Valentine. Well, I guess having kids (storge love) and age have mellowed me a bit. While I still absolutely believe that we should be showing love - in all its many forms - every single day of the year, I also acknowledge that a day and a month to remind us of the power of love is an ok thing. How do we make February lovely for everyone, regardless of how one feels about V-Day? How do we actively lift up those who struggle in February? We chose to GIVE LOVE, in all its many forms.
Love is wider than romance and deeper than dinner dates, flowers and jewelry. Love is big and sweeping and it matters to every creature, every day. It’s also teeny-tiny and often overlooked, and still matters to every creature, every day. The concept of love is complex, taking on different meanings and forms to different people. Some commonly recognized types of love in western cultures, derived from the ancient Greeks include:
- Eros: erotic, passionate love
- Philia: love of friends and equals
- Storge: love of parents for children, familial love
- Agape: love of mankind.
Because love can be a complex and nuanced emotion and can manifest in different ways for different individuals, it’s even been defined further into additional types of love:
- Pragma (enduring love)
- Ludus (playful love)
- Philautia (self-love)
- Mania (obsessive love)
- Erotomania (one-sided love)
- Hyperphilia (excessive love)
- Camaraderie (companionship love)
- Altruistic love (selfless love)
And I am betting that if we keep thinking about it, we can expand even further and find even more nuanced types of love. And that is exactly the point. Love is big and tiny and fleeting and lasting and the very dang thing that connects us all and makes the act of living worthwhile. And so let’s remember that love doesn’t just look like romantic love; it also looks like a smile from a stranger, an Aldi cart with a quarter already plugged, and quality time with a good friend. I think mostly what we can do to give love to others far and wide, is in the form of Agape, or love of mankind. Treat your fellow humans as though your small act of loving kindness can improve their life - because it can. Giving love frequently costs nothing, yet could be worth everything to another person. And it has nothing to do with romance.
Remind yourself that there is never a time that LOVE isn’t the appropriate response. Connecting with others through grace and love is a true gift. Especially if that “other” is a total dick. When in doubt, give love generously and without hesitation. I mean, I didn’t say it was easy, just appropriate…and needed. When in doubt, GIVE LOVE.
My humble wish for every person this February is to personally give out enough love to let you know that you are seen. You are loved. You matter. Even if you are feeling without hope, know that there is someone out in the world, hoping on your behalf for brighter days, kindred friendship, simple kindness, meaningful living, joy and LOVE. To share this as far and wide as possible, we’ll be including a free print inside every order over $50. Hang it in your home, your office, your cubicle or your business and GIVE LOVE.