It’s the morning of the big day and you prepare yourself for the wonderful experiences ahead. You can just imagine how fun the day will be and you can’t wait to get going. This day has been one of those days you’ve been looking forward to for a while.
The anticipation was so high that you could already taste the sweetarts and snickers bars in your mouth! When you got to school, your teacher informed you that you needed a sturdy and safe place to store your treasures, right? So you and your classmates created these makeshift “mailboxes” for the soul (sic) purpose of capturing the sentiments and the sweets that touched your hearts and palates.
Once the boxes were complete, you would “deliver” mail to the various mailboxes in the classroom. You would then eat and play games. Near the end of the day, you would share and compare your haul with your peers. On that day, everyone was included and everyone felt seen and valued. Reciprocity and inclusion were manditory, and because of that, you and I felt like we belonged.
So, I’m wondering. Was your recent Valentine’s Day like the ones you loved as a child? Was it full of joy, fun and anticipation? Or was there one or more of those components missing?
As we aged out of manditory reciprocity and inclusion, did we age into exclusion, loneliness, and frequent disappointment brought on by a structure and a system of interaction that can makes us feel invisible?
What would happen if we employed the same structure and system that existed in kindergarten to our lives now? Basically, it comes down to three general rules:
- Treat others like you want to be treated.
- Include others in your activities.
- If someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them.
It seems too simplistic, doesn’t it? Reciprocity, kindness and inclusion. Almost antiquated and pedestrian, right? However, if you employed those three intentions on a consistent basis, you would improve the conditions that create the feelings of love and belonging. When we feel seen, heard, and valued, we feel energized and we feel satisfied.
And that doesn’t just have to happen on a scripted day like Valentine’s day. That can happen every single day of your life.
As we aged out of manditory reciprocity and inclusion, did we age into exclusion, loneliness, and frequent disappointment brought on by a structure and a system of interaction that makes us feel invisible?
My point is that whether you have that special someone or not or whether you got the gifts that you wanted or not is irrelevant. What matters is the intention of exchange, and that intention, makes the difference in the quality of my life and yours.
And if you felt like a valuable and important member of the group – whether at school, work or home, how would you treat yourself and how would you treat others differently?
Inclusion, kindness, and reciprocity. It’s that simple.
I would like to offer up the radical idea that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to happen once a year – it can happen every single day of your life, because it isn’t just a date, it is an attitude. You and I can choose to live our lives with thoughtful intention instead of reactive neglect.
How are your systems and structures serving you? Are you inadvertantly setting up the conditions for your own disappointment and loneliness?
If the answer is yes or possibly, then give the structure we all learned in kindergarten a try. I have a feeling that with the right attitude, life could be a whole lot sweeter and a whole lot better for you and those you care about.
By the way, my husband and I played this game during our Valentine’s dinner that helped us learn more about each other and laugh at some choice memories. Maybe you would like it too? The game is called Vertellis!
It has three rounds:
- Answer questions together and alone
- Answer questions about dreaming and doing things together and alone
- Answer questions about characteristics, habits and achievements together and alone
Some of the answers surprised us and we’ve been together going on 15 years!
I want to challenge you to use these tips to improve your relationships and your daily experiences. My want for you is to have every day feel like that special Valentine’s Day when you felt seen, heard and valued.
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Thank you so much for reading and until next time, make the most out of the time you have!
With love and respect,