Got a Sweetie? If so, then you are probably looking forward to Valentine’s Day. If not, you might consider renaming February 14th – Singles Awareness Day.
Yup, Valentine’s Day is for lovers, and as wonderful as that is, the entire Western world’s 24 hour focus on celebrating that special relationship can feel a bit isolating for even the happiest of singles. Cultural norms play a big part in this.
Although expectations have weakened over the last generation, most of us will still follow (or hope to follow) this common pattern: finish school, find work and focus on career development, connect with a few potential life partners, choose one from our diverse selection, and settle down to raise a family of our own. Sounds easy enough, however finding and staying with the ‘right’ partner can feel overwhelming. And for those of us who are still looking for that special life partner, or feel unsure about our current choice, Valentine’s Day can amp up the pressure and leave us questioning our current state of happiness.
In honour of Valentine’s Day, and out of respect for humanity’s ongoing search for belongingness and unconditional love, this post will look more closely at myths about love and happiness.
Ever thought, “If he/she just loved me more, I would be happy”? Or the reverse, “Without his/her love, I would be absolutely miserable”? Or “I must be on track because he/she thinks I am fantastic”? Admit it. We all have these kinds of thoughts at some point in our lives. We attach our self-worth or state of being to another person’s views of us or their behaviour towards us. This makes sense since this is how as children, we learned to navigate the social world – we judged our self according to the reactions we got. And we were happy when those around us treated us as if we were special.
As adults we have other avenues to happiness that aren’t contingent on the love of others. Research in the field of Positive Psychology suggests that happiness can be achieve in 3 different ways. The overall happiest people are those who develop each of these areas.
- Actively search out pleasure: Embrace your inner hedonist and DO things that you enjoy! Can’t find the time for something you love? Schedule in 15 minutes of fun, 3 times a week. Trust me on this. Once you start having fun again, and feeling happier, you will suddenly find the time for 20 minutes of fun, 4 times a week. Pleasure-seeking is addictive.
- Do more of what you do well: Embrace your natural gifts and DO what is easy for you. Doing what comes easily will reduce tension and diminish daily tolerances. It will create a state of ‘flow’ in your life where time passes free of dramas and challenges. Addicted to struggle, even though you claim to hate it? Being in flow means you can put that problem – solving energy towards creating visionary change, rather than just mopping up other’s tragedies.
- Spend time with others: Create love by being loving. Love is an internal experience that we create within ourselves. Ever noticed how you might be in a great mood when everyone around you is grumpy, and pretty soon your good mood has rubbed off on them? Love works the same way. Give it to get it. Are you introverted and find that spending time with others leaves you drained and unfocused? Dump the energy vampires. Drop your need to fix things. You don’t need a lot of friends, just a few really good ones will do the trick.
Follow these steps to happiness and by next year, you may
have renamed February 14th Singles Appreciation Day.