With Valentine ’s Day around the corner, you can certainly feel the love in the air. This holiday has a lot to do with gifts, flowers, dinner reservations, and chocolate candies. But there are more ways to show the love you have for someone than with material things. We’ve asked joy expert Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky to provide some tips on what you should do as this magical day approaches. Here are Dr. Sonja's Valentine’s Day tips and advice.
Reminisce with your loved one
Memories of you and your partner can bolster the power of so-called “positive reminiscence.” For example, you might reminisce together about a party you both attended or a holiday, job or friend you shared. You might make a pilgrimage together to a meaningful place from your past, or flip through a scrapbook or yearbook together. You might listen (or sing along) to a piece of music associated with a particular memory. Researchers have found that mutual reminiscence – sharing memories with other people – is accompanied by abundant positive emotions, such as joy, accomplishment, amusement, contentment and pride. Interestingly, this appears to be particularly true for older individuals. Indeed, the more time older adults spend reminiscing, the more positive effect and higher morale they report.
The ability to transport yourself at will to a different time or place you and your loved one spent together can provide both pleasure and solace. Use your imagination as this magical day approaches to travel to a different mental destination. While doing so, you might laugh at funny moments from your past or relive a beautiful day spent with your partner.
Become absorbed in what you do
When you're so fully engaged in what you're doing that you don’t notice the passage of time, you are in a state called "flow," which is associated with joy. Try to increase the number of flow experiences you and your partner have on Valentine’s Day so you “lose” yourselves in experiences that are challenging and absorbing – whether it's preparing a recipe, playing a game, or enjoying a hobby together.
Savor with your partner
Whether you’re visiting a Japanese garden together, hiking to the top of a mountain, or enjoying a hot chocolate topped with Reddi-wip® in front of a fire, the pleasure of the moment can be heightened in the company of others who similarly value the experience. Marvel at the present moment with the other person. Set aside an hour, an afternoon, or an entire day for this activity.
Nurture your relationship
Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and your health all have a surprisingly small effect on your happiness level. The strongest boost appears to come from personal relationships. Spending more quality time with your partner, spouse, or kids are sure-fire ways to increase your own and others’ average levels of joy. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to invest the time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming and enjoying the relationship with your partner.