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My first job out of college was writing funny greeting cards for American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio. At this point, many years later, I estimate that I’ve written around 6,000 greeting cards. Several of those have sold over 3 million copies.
After birthday cards, valentines are everybody’s favorite. I’ve written quite a few So I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking about valentines, Valentine’s Day, love, romance, marriage, sex, dating, friendship and the complexities of human relationships.
As a result of that time and thought, here are three ideas I urge you to consider this Valentine’s Day:
Several years ago, Bonnie Ware, a hospice nurse in Australia, began asking her end-of-life patients if they had any regrets about the way they had lived their lives. Were there any things they wished they had done, but hadn’t?
It turned out they almost all did. And the same regrets kept turning up again and again in all her patients. So she wrote a book about it, titled, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
Here are two of the top regrets her patients expressed:
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
“I wish I’d let myself be happier.”
Since Valentine’s Day is a day pre-eminently involved with love, feelings and happiness, it’s the perfect time to focus on addressing those issues. A great way is through the discipline of mindfulness.
Spend some time on Valentine’s Day in a quiet place, and enter the ambient peace of mindfulness. Clear your mind of plans, thoughts and worries, and float on a warm, bobbing tide of happiness and feelings.
Ideally, with this Valentine’s Day experience of mindfulness, you are making a down-payment on a new kind of life, where you will become emotionally available enough to avoid the future regrets that Hospice nurse Bonnie Ware’s warns us about.
With mindfulness, you are sending yourself a valentine!
2. Valentine’s Day Resolutions
We typically think that the only day we make resolutions is on New Year’s. But let me suggest another day when it might also be appropriate to make resolutions: Valentine’s Day. Here’s why:
In the constant swirl and flux of daily life, the cast of characters is always changing. People move away, co-workers switch jobs, families re-configure, and friends change careers and sometimes even lives.
And then we wake up some morning and realize that there are wonderful friends that are very dear to us, but we haven’t been in touch with for over ten years!
This was another of the top regrets that Hospice nurse Bonnie Ware mentioned in her book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” Again and again her patients lamented, “I wish I’d stayed in better touch with my friends.”
So I propose making “Valentine’s Day Resolutions.”
A Valentine’s Day Resolution is simply one where you decide to re-connect with someone you haven’t been in touch with for a long time. It is a wonderful experience, and can be a tremendous gift for both of you. It is now one of my regular Valentine’s Day practices. I enthusiastically recommend it!
Finally, we come to the desire to remember our “partner” on Valentine’s Day. In our hurried, harried world of exponential speed and multi-tasking, there is always a great temptation to buy something “off the shelf” in order to make the Valentine’s Day deadline.
Give it some time and thought. Most of all use your imagination. Imagination is the oxygen of love and romance.
What are your partner’s interests and passions? Find something that would surprise or delight them, and fashion a valentine’s gift around it. And don’t feel you need to follow traditional valentine expectations. Use your imagination!
Here’s an example of a “valentine” I gave my wife several years ago:
She has a great passion for animals. She also has a love for good beer.
It so happened that a new liquor store opened up near my neighborhood with a huge selection of beers from around the world. Exotic beers I’d never heard of before: Panda Beer from China, Kangaroo Beer from Australia, Elephant Beer from Botswana, Tiger Beer from Kenya, Ostrich Beer from South Africa, Moose Head Beer from Canada, Red Tail Hawk Beer from California, and many more.
I found thirteen different beers that were named after different animals, with the animals pictured on the labels! So, I gave her one of each as her valentine that year. It was one of the most successful Valentine’s Day’s ever.
The key is to listen and pay attention to what your partner’s love and passion is. Then find some way to honor and celebrate it. How? Use your imagination!
So, this Valentine’s Day I encourage you to incorporate these three practices into your celebrations: Mindfulness; Valentine’s Day Resolutions; and Imagination.
And have a happy Valentine’s Day!
© 2018 David Evans