February is finally here and with it, Valentine’s Day. Hooray! This holiday is a big boom for the economy. Last year, we spent over nineteen billion dollars proving that we cared for each other by giving flowers, candy, gifts, cards to loved ones, family and friends. Nineteen billion is a mind-blowing number to spend on love which is essentially free and available 24/7. Am I right or am I right? Valentine’s Day seems to me like a personal holiday so why should it cost anything at all?
It all began with St Valentine who was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Roman Emperor, Claudius Gothicus. Valentine of Turni was arrested and imprisoned for marrying Christian couples who were being persecuted by the Emperor. This poor early Christian took a risk and lost his head over love…literally. How did we get from here to spending billions on love?

It seems to me that each year there is more Valentine peer pressure to prove your love with gushy card, diamond rings and other things that cost more than we can afford, but we seem to spend anyway.  What would make most of us happy, I believe, would be just a little recognition without a hefty price tag. Guilt can also be a motivator created by sentimental commercials telling us to “say it with flowers” instead of a simple, “you mean a lot me” or “I love you”. Big old teddy bears line the shelves of every store we go in holding heart shaped pillows that say, “I wuv you”.  I am not really as cynical as I sound, I would just like there to be more natural expressions of love without all the hype and the estimated $137 they say we shell out per person. It is essentially a love holiday. Right? A celebration of the good feelings we have for those who bless our lives and that includes non-romantic relationships such as family, friends and colleagues.  We can even express caring to our boss for giving us time off when we have to leave early to pick up our kids.  Valentine’s Day can be a day to expand our definition of love beyond romance to express gratitude to anyone, even those who stretch our patience. There are many ways and many people to express caring for on Valentine’s Day. Romance just makes us spend more money. Love is an unexplainable universal force which almost defies definition or circumstance. It tends to bring out the best in people. It often fosters unselfishness, bravery and cooperation. Now this is something to celebrate on Valentine’s Day!  So, let’s celebrate the deep capacities of our hearts to spread love around and it doesn’t cost a penny. Make every day Valentine’s Day and spread good feelings today with a simple “thank you”, a smile or a spontaneous compliment. This can change someone’s bad day into a great one. And when you stack kind gestures one on top of every day, you are making life a bit sweeter for everyone just without the calories or the credit card bills. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
LIFE WORK
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Diana Hartley is the sole owner of Diana Hartley Consulting. She is a leadership consultant, personal life coach and corporate communications skills trainer and creator of True Heart Training. Find her website at: www.dianahartleyconsulting.com
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