Be Your Own Valentine
Jan 30, 2013 12:26PM
By Kim Childs
© Abeyer | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
February invites thoughts of sentimental cards, assorted chocolates and candlelit dinners for lovers. But Valentine’s Day can also be a reminder to boost self-love and create lives full of sweetness based on simple practices that cultivate peace, joy and a sense of abundance. It’s possible to fall in love with life, right now, by making a few simple changes.
Create meaningful rituals. Ritual is largely missing from most people’s lives, as the demands of modern society and electronic communications tug and distract. Daily rituals can include journaling, praying, walking, writing gratitude lists, meditating, setting intentions, playing with pets or making time each afternoon or evening to simply sit, breathe and reflect. It’s about consistently unplugging from the business of life to honor what is personally meaningful, sacred and valuable. Lighting candles or incense, if desired, can enhance rituals.
Go play. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, advises readers who want to recover their creative gifts to take an “artist’s date” each week. It’s meant to be done alone, with no other purpose than to “refill the well” of inspiration, images and sensory pleasures. These self-directed play dates can include museum trips, concerts, classes, aimless neighborhood strolls, walks on the beach or in the woods, visits to unusual shops and florists, finger painting in the kitchen and dancing in the living room. Invite your inner child to set the agenda.
Savor the good. The growing field of Positive Psychology taps this practice as a way to improve mood and brain health. It involves focusing on positive things and saturating the mind (and heart) with appreciation. Throughout the day, pause to spend several seconds noting and savoring the good in your life, including creature comforts, special people, simple joys and natural beauty. Pay attention to what life is constantly offering, even, or especially, during stressful times.
Fluff your nest. Life coach and author Cheryl Richardson uses the term “soul nourishing” to describe the kind of home that she wants her clients to inhabit. It means living in a space that reflects what you love and value, with colors, fabrics and objects that delight and comfort. Clearing clutter is fundamental to the process of creating a home that feels welcoming; it also fosters calm and a sense of spaciousness.
Eat mindfully. The practice of conscious, or mindful, eating is good for digestion, sleep, energy and maintaining ideal weight. It’s also good for the planet. Pick one meal a week to eat mindfully. Turn away from screens, sit in silence or with soothing music, give thanks for the elements and people that made the meal possible and chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing, appreciating the taste, texture and nourishment. Stop eating when fullness arises, and take a few moments to digest the whole experience. Try bringing this consciousness to more meals, even that morning cup of coffee or tea.
Pause to give yourself credit. It’s easy to go through life on fast-forward, moving from one thing to the next thing and striving for new opportunities and achievements. While self-improvement is a worthy pursuit, it’s important to periodically note all that you have accomplished in life. Try saying, “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough,” and remember to honor your strengths and talents, especially the ones that are easy to take for granted. Another powerful exercise involves writing a letter to yourself that begins with “I love you for…” and later changes to “I forgive you for…” as a way to boost self-esteem and free up energy.
Give thanks often. Cultivating a state of gratitude, another practice of Positive Psychology, nurtures a lasting romance with life. Whether it’s writing about or reciting things to be thankful for, or remembering to give thanks for what did not happen and what is no longer a problem, there is always something for which to be grateful. An “attitude of gratitude” creates an immediate state of abundance and lasts longer than a box of fancy chocolates.
Kim Childs is a writer and creative-living coach based in Arlington, who offers workshops on The Artist’s Way and The Prosperous Heart, by Julia Cameron. For more information, call 617-640-3813 or visit KimChilds.com.