Monthly Archives: February 2012
“Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.” ~Unknown
February brings visions of hearts and roses and romantic love. But love isn’t just for couples, it’s for all mankind. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a “significant other” or not, it can still be a holiday that reminds us of the importance of showing love to others. You know what they say — you must first give love to receive love, and we all have people around us (children, neighbors, co-workers, parents, grandparents) who will benefit from someone taking the time to show them love and compassion. Showing kindness will not only inspire others, causing a ripple effect of positive influence, but an act of love always elevates the mood of the one doing the giving.
With that in mind, here are some fun suggestions to kick start your own list in finding ways to show someone that you care about them:
- Give an unsolicited and sincere compliment.
Words can be powerful. It takes an average of ten positive statements to undo the effects of a negative or cutting remark. So use your words for good! If you subscribe to the notion that, “I told her I loved her once – and I’ll just let her know if I change my mind,” then take a chance and say, “I love you” again…and again. Hearing “I love you” is an easy way to reassure another person of your feelings and you will see them become “lighter” and happier when you say it. Or notice how someone affects other people positively and comment on it. Or look them in the eyes and say, “I really appreciate you—just for being you.”
- Leave notes for them to find.
Leave affirming words on sticky notes on a co-worker’s computer screen, on a spouse’s rear view mirror, in a child’s lunchbox or somewhere a person you care about will be sure to see them. Let them know how important they are, how beautiful they are, how they make you laugh, or how the world is a better place with them in it. If you’re doing this for a spouse or child where you’re all under the same roof, you can leave several notes throughout the house, so your loving act will keep on giving as they continue to stumble across notes with warm sentiments meant just for them.
- Give them the gift of time.
Our days can be so busy as we all shuffle from here to there with people to see and places to go, that often our days become more about the ‘to do’ list than about the people in our lives. Often a child or elderly grandparent is just craving our presence. Carve out time for a family night during the week, coffee with a friend once a month, or an adult get-away every few months. You might consider adopting a grandparent at a nearby nursing home to spend time with every other week or once a month (many nursing home patients don’t ever have visitors). And when you give them your time, be present – really present. Turn off the cell phone, look them in the eyes, be genuinely interested, give them your undivided attention and truly listen.
- Reach out and touch someone.
Show affection with a warm hug, rubbing a loved-one’s shoulders, holding your spouse’s hand, patting a friend on the back or gently wiping a wisp of hair away from a child’s brow. Physical touch is known to reduce stress and relieve pain. People who have gone an extended period of time without some physical contact tend to become more emotionally isolated and withdrawn. You’d be surprised how many people would answer with “yes” if you ask if you can give them a hug. And, when they do, give them a bear hug that will make their day!
Maybe the last time you met your friend at the coffee shop, she had her eye on the “Big Mug” but decided it wasn’t in her budget. Leave the shop after her so you can buy her the mug and give it to her the next time you see her. Keep a list of things that loved ones mention they like in passing and surprise them with exactly that item for their birthday or – better yet — for no reason at all. If you’re the crafty type, homemade gifts are always a thoughtful way to show love and give them a special memory. Leave some homemade cookies for your neighbor. The best gifts just show up for no other reason than to show you care. It’s not about materialism; it’s the effort and thoughtfulness behind the gift.
- At your service
Acts of service can mean so much to the recipient. Mowing an elderly neighbor’s lawn or doing the grocery shopping for a new mom are ways to relieve them of a burden or show you care. If it’s your night to cook dinner and a spouse’s to clean up but they’ve had a long, draining day – do both. It’s not about score keeping and being fair, it’s about showing love.
- It’s your call …
All of the social media outlets that we have access to today have increased our quick, superficial conversations with online “friends” that we may barely know or with whom we’ve lost a deeper connection. Instead of texting, Skyping or commenting on Facebook, pick up the phone and touch base with someone you’ve fallen out of touch with. Reconnect and make the commitment to speak to each other once a month; then put it in your calendar.
- Let’s get outta here …
Better yet, if you’re both local, get them out of the house and go have some fun together. Replace Facebook with face-to-face. Go bowling, take a walk, take them to a movie, or treat them to a yummy smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Café. The Beach Bum, Sunny Day, or Mango Madness smoothies will surely fill them up with love. Or let them pick from our more than 30 smoothie flavors!
- Send a note.
Social media has also made our communications less personal. These days, a hand-written note or card sent through the mail is a rare treat. And it gives someone something to hold in their hands or put in a memory box unlike an e-card or text message.
- Be attentive to the needs of others.
If you hear that your neighbor fell and broke her hip, make up a few easy meals to take over to her. If a parent has surgery scheduled, offer to be the one that gets them there and stays with them throughout the day and during recovery. Or offer to pick up prescriptions or groceries for someone home-bound. If your child’s first car is always breaking down and being late to work means getting fired, take them to work until the car can be fixed. Showing love means showing up for others, even when it’s not convenient.
- Be creative or silly.
Make a video for them and send it to them through YouTube. Or see how creatively you can show love without words, for example, make a smiley face on the kitchen island with two apples and a banana so it’ll be the first thing they see in the morning. Or make a CD with their favorite songs.
- Expand the circle of love.
Showing love to others doesn’t need to be confined to our spouse or a small circle of close friends and relatives. You can show love and spread happiness to your community or globally by donating or getting involved in a cause close to your heart. By giving your money or volunteering your time, you’re supporting a cause that you love and will meet others with similar interests, which will expand your social circle. If your budget is tight or committing to an ongoing volunteer role isn’t feasible right now, try doing something once or twice a year like buying a dozen sandwiches (or Tropical Smoothie Café wraps) and handing them out to homeless folks in a busy area. Or take a box of toiletries and other needed items to a battered women’s shelter. Or help out at your local animal shelter. Animals will always give you unconditional love.
According to Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages), everyone has their own love language: 1) Words of Affirmation 2) Quality Time 3) Giving Gifts 4) Acts of Service and 5) Physical Touch. It helps to know what’s important to the person you’re showing love to. If you do an act of service like washing clothes, if that particular person has a specific way they do the laundry or how they fold their clothes, instead of showing love you may have just left them feeling a bit miffed at you. But if you’ve heard them complain about always being the one to vacuum or getting the mail, it’s a safe bet they’ll appreciate it when you do it. Just remember that we all share the need to feel heard, validated, appreciated and acknowledged. So, simply taking time and taking an interest is one of the best ways to show love to others (and will ultimately come back to you in so many other ways).