It’s Valentine’s Day; a day celebrating love and connection.  (We’re all well aware of the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day because, aside from the bright red February 14th on the calendar, lots of stores immediately put their Valentine’s Day signage up right as their New Year’s Eve signage went down.)

The significance of this day in our culture is pretty remarkable. There are other holidays that we acknowledge but don’t take the day off for (St. Patrick’s Day, Flag Day, etc.) but Valentine’s Day casts a long shadow all its own.  For the past six centuries, it has been designated the traditional day focused on customs surrounding love. That’s six hundred years of countless people tossed around by their own romance-fueled expectations, anxieties, and fears.

With so many expectations, anxieties, and fears all focused on a single day, disappointment and self-judgments are often the unintended payoff. (Happiness, after all, is largely product of how satisfyingly reality meets expectations.)

Yet the root of Valentine’s Day, of course, is love. So what if we ignore the expectations, the yearnings, the potential emotion-triggered eating and focus simply on LOVE. Honoring the love we have, as it exists in our lives, right now as well as inviting more in.  Remember that old riddle, “What is it, the more you give away, the more you have? Answer: Love!” Open hearts are the most accessible hearts. Because sharing our heart is the first step to opening it, let’s all take every opportunity to do just that.

Like the Beatles say, “And in the end / the love you take / is equal to the love / you make

And whether you embrace the holiday, ignore it, or fall somewhere in between, this is a good thing to keep in mind…long after the Valentine’s Day store signs come down.