Valentine's Day

 

Be Your Own Valentine: 

Seven Ways to Tap into Your "Love-Power" and Change Your Life

 

By Karen McGregor

 

          Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and we all have our feelings about it. If we're dating or (happily) married, we may be excited about the flowers, chocolates, and candlelit dinners. If we are single, we may feel dissatisfied, sad, or annoyed. (We may even retitle the holiday "Singles Awareness Day.") Either way, is our tendency to define love in terms of romance making us miss a much bigger picture?

Yes, I believe so. I have no issue with Valentine's Day itself—I just don't want us to let it trivialize what love actually is.

Whether you have a partner or not, don't fall into the trap of seeing love as something outside yourself. We're all born with love; in fact, it's our Divine Purpose — our reason for being here — and it's the origin of all our power. It's what allows us to exert positive influence on those around us.

When you reconnect with that primal power — I call it "love-power" — you unlock the door to a deeper, richer, more meaningful life. You become a heart-driven person who regularly uses your influence to not only improve your life but the lives of those around you.

You may not be used to thinking of power and influence in terms of love. That's because Western civilization views the mind (not the heart) as the source of power. But since intellect is intertwined with ego, love-based power often gets distorted, morphing into fear-based power. This causes us to seek to control others, to be passive-aggressive, to act like a victim, to engage in risky behaviors to feel special or noticed, and more.

I believe the ancient wisdom of the 4,000-year-old Tao Te Ching can help us identify and break the "power patterns" that undermine our influence, create dysfunctional relationships, and otherwise squelch our potential.

When you're in pure love-power, you're happy, curious, in an unending state of awe. You're quick to forgive. You're wide open to other people and new opportunities. Everything about how you experience the world — and how it experiences you — shifts.

Read on for some "light" and relatively simple things you can do on Valentine's Day — and afterward — to start reconnecting with your pure love-power.

Take a Valentine's Day meditation break. (It's the key to experiencing life in the holy moment of now.) Why should we meditate? Because it helps us detach from our preferences — which trigger our need to be "right" or "in control" and lead to suffering —and practice being in the present. Just set aside 15-20 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, that's okay: The point is not to judge the thoughts that stream endlessly into your consciousness but to allow them to ebb and flow without getting emotionally hooked.

Successful meditation occurs when there is no war between your head and your heart. This state is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. If you've always 'meant' to try meditating but haven't yet done so, Valentine's Day is the perfect day to start.

Gift yourself a lovely journal. Journaling is a powerful practice that can help you get in better touch with your thoughts and feelings, recognize goals, enhance gratitude, and pinpoint areas in your life that need work. Find a journal that speaks to you (pick a gorgeous one that inspires you to write). Then set aside some time alone (even just 10 minutes) to write each day.

  • Journal to find gratitude. Write about your blessings until you see how abundant your life really is. Pause as you write to ensure that you really feel the state of gratitude. 
  • Journal to stay in the moment. When your mind is racing, journaling can help you return to the present. Make a small checkmark in your notebook or journal each time you're aware of not being in the holy moment of now. Note what took you out of presence. 
  • Journal about stillness in your life. When and where can you incorporate more stillness? When does your mind struggle to be still? Record how you feel after meditation or practicing gratitude daily for one week.

Sing and dance your way to gratitude. As mentioned, many people keep a gratitude journal. The problem is, it can turn into a mindless checklist that simply creates the illusion of gratitude. If that happens, try singing and dancing instead. In his book The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel Ruiz says this is a natural expression of our love-power —which is why little children sing and dance. They haven't yet developed the filters and fear that they'll be judged. You can dance and sing in the privacy of your room or as you clean your house. If you want to take it to the next level, consider signing up for a hip-hop or salsa class or joining a local choir. 

Get rid of something that isn't serving you. Often without realizing it, we clutter and complicate our lives with things that create chaos and drama. It can be anything from too much "stuff" in our homes, to too many commitments, to the wrong job or relationship. A great expression of self-love is to pinpoint something to purge. Do a closet clean out or a social media detox. Turn down a project. Draw a much-needed boundary. Just take one step to simplify your life and free up your energy.

Grieve losses and release pain with this heart exercise. This may not feel very Valentine-y, but when we're changing our life for the better, we must first release what was. Otherwise we'll get stuck and block the clarity we need to move forward. Pain can be released through the portal of the heart. When you focus on your heart, a desire to release the pain of the past may arise. Even better, your heart knows how to do that without your mind interrupting. 

Here's a simple exercise: Focus on the heart and allow the feelings of your past to present themselves. Just allow the process to unfold. Allow your body to feel and release without letting your mind get hooked into the emotion, feeding the ego needs and magnifying your power patterns. When you put your attention on your heart, you may notice that it feels warm or even hot. That is a sign you are releasing stored emotional pain. 

If you're single, stop searching for "the one." It's common to believe that there's one person out there who can finally see us for who we really are. But searching for our perfect match is a chase that's based on an illusion. I love romance, but I've come to believe that it's usually founded in the need to be special. People search for "the one" their entire lives, never escaping the constant craving for specialness. Never confuse love with specialness. Love supports a life of joy and love-power; "specialness" impedes it.

In that same vein, it's time to revisit the definition of "soul mate." Soul mates are actually not romantic partners but people destined to help you grow by presenting you with challenging personality traits and actions you don't like. This mind shift may defuse anger or defensiveness and help you change the dynamic with "difficult" people who cross your path.

If you're in a romantic relationship, start working toward a cause you believe in, together. There is no greater calling for a romantic relationship than to create a better world. In fact, many millennials are moving in this direction! 

Rather than being absorbed by one another, they are breaking the old paradigm of romantic co-dependency and choosing instead to be inter-dependent, working together for causes that uplift humanity. This new paradigm of relationship lets people shift from a state of isolation within their own dramas, fears, and wounds, which are experienced as they get to know their partner, to becoming a presence in the world. 

Talk with your partner and choose a project to participate in. Maybe arrange to visit an orphanage to play games with or tutor school children, or plan a fundraiser event to benefit the homeless. Think about the passions you both share and start there. You will be amazed by how deeply a project rooted in love-power can transform your lives.

While Valentine's Day is a good time to think about connecting to your love-power, or even take a symbolic first step, it's actually a journey you take every day, all year long. Before you can bring your best self to all of your relationships, you must connect to love-power. Love-power is the key to unlocking your potential and opening your being to everything life has in store. It's how you provide clarity to those around you. It's how you join hearts with others to change the world.

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About Karen McGregor:
Karen McGregor is a leadership and influence expert, international keynote speaker, and the best-selling author of several books, with her most recent, The Tao of Influence: Ancient Leadership Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs, debuting in June 2020. As a speaker sharing the stage with Tony Robbins, John Gray, Deepak Chopra, and others, Karen knows how to support leaders to become influential modern-day mystics in the boardroom, in their communities, and on the global stage...all while taking the necessary action to produce sustainable change. Karen built her own multiple-six-figure company from the ground up as a single mom; through her own challenging journey and struggles with her Type-A personality, Karen shares how to access deep inner wisdom and harmony (in an often chaotic, demanding, and ever-changing environment) while getting extraordinary results professionally and personally. She has presented to thousands of people in a variety of industries and is respected as a speaker who motivates and inspires audiences to take action

 

Show your community some love this Valentine's Day.

By Quint Studer

Most of us love our community and want the best for it. It's our home. It's where we live, work, learn, play, and raise our families. And yet, it's easy to go about our daily lives without ever stopping to think, What can I do to make my community better?

I get it. We are all busy. And it's easy to assume that someone else will do what needs doing. But if there's one thing I've learned from my work with communities across the U.S., it's this: We are all owners. We don't need an official title. We don't have to be assigned a task. We don't have to be wealthy. We all have gifts to share and the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

My dream is that, in honor of Valentine's Day, every citizen would do just one small thing to make their community better. We all know that random acts of kindness have positive ripple effects that reach far and wide, often unexpectedly so. Could you imagine the amazing results if everyone took part in a mass outpouring of love and positivity?

I'm not talking about big, complicated improvements. If you're a homeowner, you know something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can be a "quick fix" that makes a huge difference in how a room looks (and how you feel living in it). The same is true of a community.

You might start by taking a slow drive around your city. What do you see that needs to be repaired or replaced? Is there a field that needs to be mowed? Does a city park need some shade trees? Do flowers need to be planted? Is there an empty lot that needs trash hauled away, or a dangerous road in need of a crosswalk?

Next, consider what resources you have at your disposal. Maybe you, personally, have the skills or the funding to fix something that's broken. If not, you may know someone who does. If you need proper permission, try to get it. There are always potential reasons why something "can't" be done, but it's often amazing what can happen when we just ask.

Maybe your way of showing your community some love is to serve on the school board, to head up a "housing for the homeless" committee, or to spend a day at your local food pantry or animal shelter. Not only will this single action serve a great practical need (everyone is desperate for volunteers!), it may inspire you to get involved on a deeper level.

This is a great opportunity for a group to work together on a project, but you don't have to join an organized effort. Individual acts of love and kindness are meaningful, too. You can offer to clean up a cluttered yard or place a bench under a tree at the park. Once you start looking, you'll find lots of simple things you can do to make things better.

Also, think about how you might use your time and skill set to bring opportunity to others. Could you train entrepreneurs to better manage their finances or market themselves? Mentor someone inside your company? Tutor students who are struggling? Think broad and then narrow your scope: It's usually more impactful to pick one or two big things and go deep rather than try to tackle five big things.

Finally, we can all express our gratitude for what's right in our community. We can write a letter to the editor that celebrates the bright spots in our community. (Every community has them!) We can send a heartfelt thank-you note to the hospital that took care of our loved one. We can thank a maintenance worker for keeping the streets clean. Positivity and gratitude are contagious. They make a difference. And it feels good to practice them.

Making the decision to love our community is a powerful first step. It's a mind shift that truly changes the conversation around what's possible. I've seen it over and over: When a community decides "we are worth it" and takes control of their future, huge transformations can follow.

Happy Valentine's Day. 

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Quint Studer is author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Busy Leader's Handbook: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive. He is founder of Pensacola's Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community's quality of life, and Vibrant Community Partners, which coaches communities in building out a blueprint for achieving growth and excellence. Quint speaks and works with communities across the country, helping them execute on their strategic plans, create a better quality of life, and attract and retain talent and investment. He is a businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to many. He currently serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida, Executive-in-Residence at George Washington University, and Lecturer at Cornell University. For more information, please visit www.thebusyleadershandbook.comwww.vibrantcommunityblueprint.com, and www.studeri.org

 

 

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