Valentine's Day is upon us. It's hard to miss, even if you'd secretly like to. Grocery stores boast isles and isles of balloons, gifts, and cards. And Restaurants and flower shops are ramping up for one of the strongest days of the year.
But Valentine's Day is not for the faint of heart. Similar to other holidays, it can evoke a myriad of feelings: Joy and ecstasy for the love-drunk newly-weds for yet another reason to spend the day staring into each other's eyes. Pressure for those with demanding partners, specifically the ones that don't share the same love language. Sadness for the heartbroken and the lonely who long for a Valentine. Frustration for the involuntary singles who wish this day would be erased from collective memory.
For the longest time, I've simply been curious and mildly amused about this day that seems to draw so much attention to something that in my opinion should, if real, not need a special day to be embraced and celebrated. But the fact that the world does care teaches us a lot about love and connection - and about its importance in our world.
Here are a few insights that Valentine's Day can reinforce for us - and that we should embrace a lot more than we currently do.
We all yearn for love and connection. That's the only reason that for almost two millennia now, we've felt the need to dedicate this day to it. It is a need as fundamental to human existence as is water or air. We are wired for it, so much that we literally wither and die without it. The impact of loneliness on our experience of life, our ability to bring our full selves to it, our health, and our productivity is hard to overstate.
It's not all about romantic love. In fact, the importance of romantic love in our collective stories has unfairly eclipsed the incredible value of platonic friendships and the authenticity they bring to our lives. It's no coincidence that initiatives like "Galentine's Day" (celebrating Valentine's with your best friends) has taken off in recent years, and not only for the single amongst us. Love is a force far more readily and widely available than we want to believe.
Love and connection want to be expressed. Valentine's Day tries to capitalize on that, but I'm not talking about picking up a bouquet of roses on your way home from work. If we give our love and appreciation for others the space to come forth, there will be thousands of beautiful, natural manifestations that will emerge as we help bring it to life. In most cases, we just need to get ourselves and our egos out of the way. Connection is already there.
Love and connection happen in the space between. Too often, we believe love is merely an internal sensation, a feeling of affection we carry for someone else. In reality, love happens in the in-between. It is the glue that holds humanity together. We are as much actors as we are acted-upon by love and connection. And in most instances, we don't create connection and relationship, but we uncover it by removing what's in the way of it.
Connection is at the heart of a life well-lived. Countless studies prove its centrality to happiness and longevity. This, again, is not about romantic love, but about deep, meaningful social connection and relationship and their presence in our lives. The more we can give connection the place in our life that it's asking for, the more we will thrive.
Did you know the history of Valentine's Day? It was dedicated to a martyr Saint in Ancient Rome who secretly married couples that were not allowed to be together. This day was built on people's determination to remove obstacles to connection and deep relation.
Let us help carry that energy forward. This Valentine's Day, let's approach things differently. Not make it about us and our love. But about love and connection itself.
How can we bring more connection to our relationships both at home and at work on a more constant basis? Which individuals in our environment might feel lonely and overlooked, not only on Valentine's Day? How might we be able to show appreciation and create spaces throughout our days for genuine connection and depth more reliably and readily? How can we get out of the way of the connection and the level of relation that already is, between all of us? How can we harness the power of relation and connection in our lives and our workspaces?
We wish you a Valentine's Day that will bring some food for additional thought and pondering. And if you would like to talk more about how to build connection at work and advance your relational leadership capabilities, visit us at Withiii.com and talk to us.
Be our Saint Valentine. We'd love to connect!