Valentine’s Day Gratitude
By David A. Morris, LCSW
Although Valentine’s Day can often be a source of self-pity, it can also be a reminder to practice gratitude. This holiday may have been stolen by capitalism but like most of our traditions it originally was developed for a good reason. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day in an effort to encourage committed romance and love during a time when “fertility festivals” and animal sacrifice were matching young people instead.
Scientific studies have proven time and again that a mental position of gratitude has many benefits. These studies indicate that a spirit of thankfulness reduces aches and pains, increases the quality and quantity of friendships, reduces episodes of depression, and encourages physical exercise. In addition, gratitude tends to lower stress, lower aggression, improve sleep and increase your overall sense of worth.
It sounds simple, yet it takes practice to build this attitude. So this Valentine’s Day instead of dwelling on what you DON’T have, start sending yourself a gratitude message of what you DO have.
Here are some good ideas to get started:
If You Have a Partner, Thank Them
If you are fortunate enough to have a husband, wife, or intimate partner than use this holiday as a way to focus on them. There are even studies that indicate giving to someone else can be more freeing than focusing on yourself (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008). Don’t let your thoughts focus on what your partner might do for you, instead turn your heart towards your partner.
It’s Their Love Language Not Yours
Without notice, we often do or buy something for our spouse/partner that reflects our wants instead of theirs. Set your love language aside and find out what they really want. Is it gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, or physical touch? Find out and set your gratitude in that direction.
Be Thankful in the Details
It’s not just that your partner got you a wonderful pair of socks, it’s the idea they were thinking of you, considering your needs and making their best attempt at pleasing you. Look for those pleasantries to increase your gratitude during this time of the year.
Slice your Thankfulness Thin
Look for chances to be thankful. Don’t wait for a big “slice” to come your way. Each detail of your partner can be a gift to you, so slice it thin to relish its delicacy.
No Partner? No Problem
Being without someone during the Valentine’s Day season can be a struggle but there are plenty of things to be thankful for aside from romantic love. Think of your career, your friends, your community, your pets, your warm apartment or house, your comfy blankets and clothes, or your unique abilities. Remember doing for others can be very gratifying so look for an opportunity to gift a friend, co-worker or neighbor during this holiday and throughout the year.
If you are looking for more on gratitude and building an attitude of thankfulness, contact one of our caring, patient therapists to walk you through the process.