Happy February, friends.
The month of love, Family Day long weekend and, for me personally, my birthday! As my next journey around the sun is coming up, I've been looking back at all the lessons learned from one of my hardest years yet, and have realized an important lesson that I hope you will all take into consideration for Valentine's Day: unconditional love.
I feel as though in today's society practicing unconditional love is rare. People so easily give up once obstacles come their way or an argument occurs between friends or lovers, and one can't agree to disagree.
We tend to walk away so quickly if something isn't stimulating us. God, we have a shorter attention span than goldfish thanks to smartphones!
Unconditional love is hard, it can be uncomfortable and frustrating at times, but in the end I believe it will be the most rewarding practice you can do for yourself and select loved ones. I say select loved ones, as this type of love doesn't mean to neglect self-care or selfishness, as this will only hold back your self-development and happiness.
But what is unconditional love? It has been defined as "affection with no limits or conditions; complete love." Basically loving without set conditions such as, "I'll love you if you do X, Y or Z for me." or "I'll love you as long as it's easy, but once it's hard I'm out of here."
I think while we practice self-care and mindful selfishness, we need to also add to the mix unconditional love to help us in times of happiness, distress and change. Because -- let's face it, people -- life clearly isn't always sunshine and rainbows.
As I've been thinking about this topic for quite some time, I have realized that like many lessons, it's easier said than done. It's so easy to push away people who may not meet your "expectations" or fail to give you the attention you "need" at the moment.
But if you mindfully practice loving those in your life, just as they are (not the version you want them to be), I believe this practice will help maintain healthy, nurturing, non-judgemental and lasting relationships.
With any relationship I believe there are three main pillars that create a solid foundation: honesty, communication and trust. And what I've learned with my partner of 10 (going on 30) years, is the glue that has stuck us together through everything is our unconditional love. No matter how hard life gets, mistakes made, expectations not met or whatever, we love each other unconditionally through it all.
As I aim to practice this rare type of love with my family and chosen friends, I hope these suggestions resonate well with you:
- Drop your ego, we all make mistakes
- Stop judging, nobody is perfect
- Forgive, forgive and be forgiven
- Accept people for who they are, not who you want them to be
- Be honest, communicate your feelings with respect and humility
Whatever you choose to do this Valentine's Day, I encourage you to consider practicing the art of unconditional love to those close to your heart. As Rumi famously states, "And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, 'You owe me.' Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky."
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