“OHHHHHH, Love…Look What You’ve Done to Me”
By Dr. Ben Christiansen
Cue the music….
That’s right, two months into a new year and baby, we “TALKIN’ LOVE.” While I would be pumped to say that this blog will be about all things lovely (bacon, puppies, babies, spouses, bacon, and yes…more bacon), I am sure that it would simply be sent back to me with more red marks than my first paper in graduate school. I did a quick search of information on how February, smack dab in the middle of winter, somehow became the month of Love (or at least Valentine’s Day). Truth be told, I’m not sure anyone really knows. Most poetry on the subject discusses the mating calls of birds and the beauty of flowers. The only birds I have seen lately are the massive clouds of magpies that swarm buildings and parking lots like an Alfred Hitchcock nightmare. Not even close to a “love” feeling.
So, with the power vested in me as a certifiable Cracked Pot…I have officially decided that Love Month, or Valentine’s Day, was created for the sole purpose of reminding us that the people with whom cabin fever has set in, are indeed the ones we love. In my opinion, this can be the only true reason for the reminder of love! See, last year it was estimated that some 190 million Valentine’s cards are sent in the United States alone. It was also estimated that the approximate value of each Valentine’s gift is…wait for it…$150! So, first we break the piggy bank open for The Christmas Holiday, next we use a charge card to buy new workout clothes for our “New Year’s Restart Resolution” in the dead of winter, and then spend whatever money we have saved for taxes on chocolates and flowers grown in greenhouses that don’t necessarily smell nice. In the words of my people, “Sounds legit!” Doesn’t it?
Please, don’t get me wrong…I love to love! I do. I have been blessed with an amazing wife, amazing kids (even when they are awake), and an amazing extended family. I even love my job and my staff are pretty amazing too. I just find it funny that somehow, we as human beings need a reminder to love. One year I followed my fellow male lemmings to the flower shop, I found myself thinking, “Will my wife really feel loved knowing that I stood in line with a hundred other men to buy the same flowers?” Perhaps she was actually laughing on the phone with her friends at the sight of their “men” standing in a flower shop, looking like a 7th grader in junior high, trying to figure out what in the heck the flower lady was talking about. So, that day I took a stand! I have never bought my wife flowers on Valentine’s Day since. Yes, you can send her flowers if you want (she loves them), but I didn’t say I never buy flowers…I just do it when they are not expected. I even enjoy the odd looks from the florist when she asks what the special occasion is and I say, “Tuesday.”
On a quick side note: When did “Single Awareness Day become an official anti-Valentine’s Day thing?” Just a quick thought…If I can’t show love to all, can I say I love any? (I know, probably too deep for me, but why not?)
So here are some thoughts to show your loved ones a more unique, thoughtful, approach. Heck, if it works out you can even try it throughout the year! Flowers do grow all year long.
1) Try to remember what love actually means. It is so easy to remind one another of our shortcomings. We may be doing so out of love, and have the best of intentions. Yet I rarely have patients come into my office astonished by the “insight” into their imperfections provided by a well-meaning loved one. If you find your statements filled with “buts” or “however,” perhaps “you’ve lost that loving feelin’.” Try to say nice, uplifting things. You would be surprised how far they go in showing someone you love them.
2) Love is Actually an Action Word. I know, stop the press. But seriously, telling someone “you look hot” is not really love-invoking, but rather reminiscent of the pimply-faced, adolescent years (sorry to any pimply-faced teenagers who might seek my great wisdom by reading my blog). Do something, especially something unexpected, that is meaningful. Sorry, picking up your own nasty socks does not count.
3) Acknowledgement is an AMAZING love statement. I am amazed at how many people come into my office and simply want someone to acknowledge their effort. Not just from their loved ones, but from anyone. A couple of years ago, I started trying to acknowledge people that made my day, did me a service, or simply were there. I find it amazing to watch people’s reactions when I simply say “You are amazing, thank you.” Would the world be a happier, friendlier, a less depressed place? I know how to find out.
4) Surprise them. Simply put, human beings love appropriate surprises. Perhaps it is muffin Thursday, or hot cocoa Sunday (you can’t have flower Tuesday because that is mine. Okay, go ahead). Regardless, simply serve someone just because. It’s unlikely that anyone will believe that you “were thinking about doing something” after you were told to do it. It simply has lost the value. Not that you should not get your loved ones a gift this year, but make it meaningful, do it often, and surprise them.
Well, there you go. Go have fun. Show some love. Or as Al Green sang, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Either way, get to it! And remember while loving others, strive to be kind to yourself and show some love to the one that matters most.
With Love because it’s Tuesday,
P.S. This does not absolve you from celebrating Valentine’s Day. I would hate to have Corporate America knocking on my door because I impaired the National GDP.