Adults tend to think of Valentine’s Day as a time to revel in romantic love, but when things aren’t ideal in that area of your life, the holiday can become downright depressing. It can put a magnifying glass on an iffy relationship, remind you of trouble within a long-term partnership, or enhance your longing for one. What if instead you used this day to simply celebrate love—the most real kind there is?
1. Recognize love as something you always have.
“If you go underneath your habits and underneath your immediate experience, you will find the capacity for growth, for change, for wisdom, for love that’s never, ever destroyed,” says Sharon Salzberg, meditation teacher and author of Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection, in her Untangle podcast interview with Meditation Studio last year. “It may be covered over—it usually is. It may be hard to find, and it certainly may be hard to trust, but it’s there. There’s nothing that we can go through that will make that not be true.” Instead of seeing love as a thing your family, friends, and romantic partner give you, truly embrace the knowledge that it is something you have within you at all times.
2. Love thyself often.
In her Falling in Love with Yourself meditation on the Meditation Studio App, yogi and meditation teacher Coby Kozlowski recommends a powerful self-love exercise: Think of your top three qualities, look in the mirror, and with each quality say, “One thing I love about myself is…” This is not a narcissistic practice, but rather a reminder to celebrate what you love in yourself. It’s a better pick-me-up than your daily dose of caffeine.
3. Open your heart to others.
Feeling good about yourself has benefits for others too. In relationships it can eliminate the tendency to cling to or control your partner’s love, allowing for a truer, deeper connection. You can open your heart more freely to others when you feel love for yourself from within. “Recognizing that no one else can complete us actually enhances our capacity to love and receive the love of others,” Salzberg writes in Real Love. “It’s in that process of really listening, really looking at somebody, really being there, that the possibility of genuine connection, and then real love, can grow.” Listen to the full interview with Sharon Salzberg on Untangle.