In the month of love, make the time and effort to give love to everyone you care about and open yourself up to receiving love in return.
In February, we hear a lot about romantic love – hearts, flowers, chocolates, candle-lit dinners… And of course, if you have a romantic partner, it’s great to make the time for them. But our lives are enriched by so many other kinds of love, so this February, we thought we would focus on all the different types of love and find ways to enhance and attract all of them.
So, here’s how to put a little loving energy into the wider world.
Just as charity begins at home, love begins with the self. As busy adults, we often silence our inner voices and pay attention to whomever is clamouring the loudest for our attention. This February turn up the volume on your inner voice and listen to your own demands. You know what nourishes your soul – whether it’s a quiet walk, an afternoon off to read a book, or a wild night out with friends – so make the time to do it.
Asking for a favour, like a bit of help from someone else, can give them the opportunity to show you some love. Asking is an intimate act, and it gives your friends or family the chance to do something nice for you. It’s surprisingly hard to make yourself vulnerable in this way. Overcome your awkwardness and try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Offer to do something to help a friend out in a way that would make their life easier. Take their kids for an afternoon to give them a bit of free time, drop in with a ready-made meal if they’re stressed, or take them out for a treat that you know they can’t afford right now.
You can probably think of someone in your life that you’d like to take from acquaintance to friend. Make the move and invite them for a coffee or a movie. An evening or weekend crafting class or exercise group is a great way to widen your circle and get to know potential future friends.
Don’t forget about the lovely people already in your life. Drop round with a bunch of flowers or a box of biscuits to see your bestie at work. Make a dinner or drinks date with a group of friends at a new restaurant or bar you’ve been meaning to try - or just meet up for a picnic in a park. Reconnect with a friend you haven’t seen in a while - there must be loads on Facebook.
If someone has done something you admire or appreciate, or you think they are kind or clever or funny, let them know. They probably don’t know just how special they are, even if it’s obvious to you. They’ll be touched and delighted to hear the nice things you think about them.
If something - a video or meme - made you laugh out loud, share the love. Send it to the friends and family members that you think will appreciate it, with a personal note suggesting why it made you think of them. Not only will you brighten their day; you’ll increase your chances of getting more laugh-out-loud funny videos and other content sent to you in future.
WhatsApp is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. Rule number one of any WhatsApp group is “don’t overdo it”, but if you keep it light and sweet, it will become a positive space for everyone to play in and will keep you up to date with what’s happening in your loved ones’ lives, and them up to date with yours.
There’s plenty of evidence that contact with furry friends improves your mood and calms you down. If you have a pet, make the time to cuddle up for a good stroking session or a walk in the park. But even if you don’t, you could volunteer at a shelter or ask a friend if you can come and visit their cat or walk their dog. Everyone - you, your friend, their pet - wins!
In the back of nearly every cupboard is a well-intentioned birthday or Christmas present that just never quite got the attention it deserved. Whether it is an arts and crafts kit, a kite or a new board game, make a date to rediscover it with your kids. Or, take them on an outing to a favourite destination of their choice. Escape the rut of routine and do something fun - your kids will love it. If you have more than one child, it’s great if you can do this one-on-one occasionally, rather than in a gang.
Working with other people in your community is a great way to build positive relationships and to make a difference to the world around you - which in turn makes everyone happier. Volunteer at a local children’s or old age home, participate in (or start) a monthly A Re Sebetseng clean-up in your area, or simply make a point of donating food or clothes to homeless people. Working towards a sense of ubuntu - “I am because we are” - creates more positivity in your life and the world around you.
Smile and offer a kind word to the people you meet as you go through your day. Take the opportunity to make connections in your community with every little human encounter. It costs you nothing and brightens up everyone’s day - yours especially!
Love is a two-way street. When you show people that you care, they will respond to you with the same warmth. And if everyone gets in on the plan, well, love will just keep on making the world go around.