Many of you may be thinking, “I spent another Valentine’s Day still waiting for that someone special.” If that is your current mindset, I want to offer you a new way of thinking, a new vision or dream for your life. Resist the pressure to couple up if it doesn’t happen to be the time for you, and celebrate the moment. Love your singleness. Think about all of the marvelous benefits of being single, from not fighting over the TV remote control to being able to keep your living space as clean or as messy as you’d like. The “couples” messaging is strong, but it isn’t a reflection of the full reality of how people choose to live their lives. Don’t fall for the hype that everyone’s paired off and happy as a result. Be happy within yourself, regardless of your relationship status.
Romantic tales often suggest that another person can complete you, with common sayings such as “my better half”, “I was half the person without you”, and “our two hearts beat as one” being readily asserted with few people stopping to assess what that actually means. If taken too seriously, this unhealthy perspective can mean co-dependence, loss of independence, and losing yourself in another person. That is hardly romantic!
And do relationships equate to happiness ever after? Divorce statistics and the stories of unhappy marriages seem to attest otherwise for a large group of people. Bear in mind that there’s no need to change who you are, or to lose your liberty or your habits you have when you’re single. Rather than feeling down, celebrate the strengths and achievements that testify to you being a whole and healthy person, a person who has space for love should it come along but who does not NEED such a relationship to create self-worth and happiness right now. Are all those lovers still whispering sweet nothings in each others’ ears? Will they keep surprising one another with candlelit dinners and trips down memory lane? It is to be hoped so. Reality however, suggests otherwise and we all, single or unattached, can fall into a habit of not acknowledging the people who matter in our lives.
A grave reality that is difficult to accept is that we may still be waiting for that “someone special” because we’re looking for validation of our worth from someone other than the person we see in the mirror. You may think it’s impossible to be happy being yourself. Every day, it’s easy to wish you looked like or acted like someone else, or had the cushy job or great boyfriend that someone else has. However, until you learn to accept who you are and work to address your flaws, you’ll never grow as a person.
Here’s how to find the value in YOU:
• Be confident. Being confident about who you are is the first step to happiness. Recognizing what you love about yourself first will make you much happier to be in your own skin. Start by making a list of all of the things you love about yourself, whether it’s your free spirit, your work ethic, or your shiny hair. Appreciate what makes you unique. How cool is it that you speak four languages, can walk on your hands, or can instantly make new friends? Not everyone can do that, but you can!
• Recognize your flaws. But don’t obsess over them! Confidence is the key to happiness, but if you’re so confident that you don’t recognize where there’s room for improvement, you won’t be seeing your real self and may be an unpleasant person to be around. A crucial element of recognizing your flaws is learning to forgive yourself. Let’s face it. We’ve all done something we’re less than proud of. Maybe you said something really cruel to a friend, cheated on your boyfriend or girlfriend, or made a major mistake at work. Whatever you did, you should recognize that it was wrong and understand why you did it, but after that, it’s time to let it go. If you’re hung up on your past mistakes, you won’t be able to focus on the future.
• Be grateful. Never forget how blessed you are to be you. If you spend so much time obsessing about your flaws and the things you want to change, you’ll never be fully happy just being yourself. Appreciate your health. As a physician and breast cancer survivor, I appreciate my health to the “nth” degree on a daily basis. If you’re a healthy person who doesn’t have trouble walking, eating, or sleeping, be grateful! There are many people whose lives revolve around their poor health, and if you’re not one of them, don’t forget how blessed you are.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to laugh—ever! Laughter is a common remedy for all ailments, and you should always leave some room for laughter in your daily life. No matter how dire your life may seem at a given moment, never forget to take a break to laugh. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll LIVE longer.