Happiness, Gratitude, and Positive Psychology: The Perfect Valentine All Year Round

07 February 2013 ~ 0 Comments

It’s always good to turn to major holidays for inspiration. As I’m writing this, it’s the month of February and that means candy hearts, greeting cards, and more chocolate than you can eat in a month (but that never stops us from trying, now does it?).

It’s the season for valentines, and though we might only send them once a year, what if we had a valentine that would last all year round? What if that valentine could be sent to ANYONE influential in our lives, be they a partner, friend, associate, client, or someone we admire professionally?

In Positive Psychology, studies show that a valentine can generate happiness.  In the same way, writing a gratitude letter to someone–a loved one, a beloved teacher or coach, even an esteemed client or colleague–has been shown to have a mood-boosting effect that will last for months. handwritten letter

So what if we sent such “valentine” gratitude letters all year round? According to the studies out there, we would probably find ourselves happier overall, no matter what our circumstances.

We might find ourselves like Valentine himself, who “birthed” the valentine in the midst of pretty tough circumstances.  What’s the story, you ask?

One popular legend says Valentine was an early Christian in Rome. The Roman regime still persecuted Christians at that time but Valentine persisted in practicing his faith and refused to worship Roman gods. This enraged Emperor Claudius II and he put Valentine in the slammer…. Not an atmosphere very conducive to feeling gratitude, would you say?  

For the romantics among us, there’s a twist: Some scholars believe that during his imprisonment, Valentine befriended the jailer’s blind daughter who brought him notes and flowers from his fans, the children. Receiving these visits and gifts must have been nice but let’s face it: Valentine was still in prison.

Some believe that Valentine and the jailer’s daughter fell in love. Before he was executed, Valentine purportedly prayed for the jailer’s daughter and she regained her sight (so he helped perform miracles too…). Before his death, Valentine was said to have written a farewell note to the jailer’s daughter, which he of course signed “From your Valentine.”

Pretty harsh circumstances for sending a valentine–Sure sheds a whole new light on Valentine’s Day and the idea of gratitude even in the darkest of situations.  And we have a lot to learn from Valentine, don’t we?

Let’s hope we don’t put off sending a valentine or letter of appreciation to the people we love (or admire)  until  we’re imprisoned (literally or figuratively) or nearly dead.  

Why don’t you pick one person who has inspired and motivated you and get started on that letter of gratitude?  You’ll be happier whether you send it or not. 

Why not spread the good energy by sending it? A gratitude letter, however short, sure beats a 99 cent card printed and purchased in bulk. Plus, the people who have positively impacted your life will be grateful to know their lives have made a difference!

Do it now, while they can still receive and treasure your special “valentine.”


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