Celebrating Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just for people in romantic relationships. What if we made Valentine’s Day a day to spread love to everyone we interacted with—What if we intentionally sought out the people society usually ignores and helped brighten their day with a little extra kindness? My name is Ashley, and I’m here to give you a few ideas on doing just that for this Valentine’s Day (and hopefully every day of the year!).
1. Start with yourself. We’ve all heard it before, “Self care is not selfish,” but it is SO true. We cannot authentically care for others if we are not first caring for ourselves. It’s like they say on airplane safety instructions: put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help your neighbor. You’re a much more effective helper when you have the ability to breathe!
Try this: Take a donut break. No really, go get yourself a donut and eat it guilt free. Give yourself extra time each day to do something you love or enjoy. Even something as simple as taking 10 minutes to step outside for some fresh air and a walk around the block (to buy yourself a donut) can vastly improve your mood and free you up to love others with intention.
2. Write an anonymous note of encouragement for a stranger. This one is my favorite ways to spread love. I do this on a regular basis with my small business, Love Everywhere. What began as a personal passion to share kindness and encouragement with others has birthed an entire community of golden hearts that are intentional about sharing love through handwritten words of encouragement. Together, we have distributed over 18,000 kind notes! Being kind in this way doesn’t take very much time, and requires very little money—all you really need is a piece of paper and a pen—and yet the impact it has carries infinite possibilities for the lucky person who discovers it. A message as simple as “you are loved” can lift someone’s spirits after a tough day, and let them know they are not alone.
The beauty of having our community behind us is that we can keep track of the cards that are being written and discovered. We’ve had cards in locations as distant as the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China, as well as in cities all over the United States. If you’d like to join our social experiment in sharing Love Everywhere, please visit our website or Instagram, we’d love to be friends!
3. Look for the good in someone and speak it out to them. Fellow Nashvillian Ruthie Lindsey says it best, “If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.”
Complimenting someone’s eyes, hair or outfit is the easiest way to vocalize kindness, but what if we took it a bit deeper and pointed out their stellar kind heart or how rad it was that they helped a friend out during a difficult time. Complimenting someone’s actions versus how they look speaks to who they are and goes deeper than the typical, “You look nice today,” superficial compliment (even though we still need to hear those, too!!).
4. Give your parking spot to someone else or let someone ahead of you in line at the grocery store. We’ve all been there: in a hurry trying to run errands and trying to find that prime parking spot or the shortest line to get us out the door.
What would it look like to wait an extra three minutes at checkout to let that busy mom with three kids ahead of you in line? Or to walk a few extra feet so that elderly man can have the closer parking spot? These are simple ways to make a positive impact on your local community that really do make a difference.
5. Say thank you. To your friends. To your family. To your local coffee shop barista. Your hair dresser. Your mailman. To the janitor at your local fitness center. Find people doing jobs that are usually ignored, and tell them thank you for the work that they do and the way it makes your life better. They will never forget it, and you will find that it feels so good to fill your gratitude tank up that you’ll start seeking out ways to be grateful in every last part of your day.
Ashley Reale is the Founder and Chief Heart Officer of Love Everywhere, a brand on a mission to sprinkle kindness like confetti all over the world, through hidden notes of encouragement. You can follow along on her journey to #shareloveeverywhere on Instagram @shareloveeverywhere. Ashley lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and two children.
Photos by Kristen Frasca (@kristenfrasca)