Ah, the month of love!

As February rolls around, Valentine’s Day is in the air – literally. You couldn’t miss the coming of Valentine’s Day if you tried. Between the TV specials, stuffed bears and candy for sale everywhere you look, love-songs on the Internet and the ever-present jewelry commercials, the month of love is categorically upon us.

And yet… how loving do you feel toward yourself? Is it something you even take into consideration as you buy cards to send to loved ones, plan that romantic dinner for two or buy a lavish display of flowers?

 
 

You could, I suppose, send yourself some cards, buy yourself flowers and take yourself out to dinner. All that is nice, but the greatest, most loving gift you could give yourself this Valentine’s Day would be – self-acceptance.

The Gift of Self-Acceptance

A recent survey of 5,000 people by the charity Action for Happiness in collaboration with Do Something Different, reports a strong link between self-acceptance and happiness. Indeed, the research shows that practicing self-acceptance is one thing that could make a surprisingly significant difference to the level of one’s happiness.

Wouldn’t increasing your happiness level be a delightful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Oh, not instead of the flowers, gifts and candies to your loved ones, but as part of the celebration. The happier you are, the easier it is to spread the love among all those in your world.

Our very age gives us an advantage. A survey of 1,546 people from ages 21 to 99 found, much to the researchers’ surprise, that although older respondents didn’t feel as physically fit or mentally sharp as younger respondents, it was the older people who were the happiest! People in their 20s and 30s reportedly suffered the highest levels of depression, anxiety and stress, and had the lowest levels of happiness, satisfaction and wellbeing.

Expressing and Embracing Self-Acceptance

So how do you do it? How do you express your self-acceptance in ways that increase your happiness, and thus increase the love you can show others?

Do what makes you happy.

Sounds simple, and yet it is often an overlooked aspect of our lives that supports and enhances a healthy sense of self-acceptance. Doing what makes you happy sends a message to your psyche, as well as to those around you, that who you are and what you want are valuable.

When considering self-acceptance and what makes you happy, ask yourself: What is of value in your older self? What do you appreciate now that maybe you didn’t in your younger years?

How about the tremendous freedom to be utterly your unique self?

Two examples stand out:

Iris Apfel, at 93, is a fashion world icon. With her signature bracelets from wrist to elbow, Ms. Apfel’s outfits are a riot of bright colors, and her glasses are super-sized with black frames. She is oblivious to what others might think of her bold choices. They are her choices.

At 83, Carmen Dell’Orefice, with her high cheekbones and distinctive silver-white hair, is the world’s oldest super-model. Yes, you read that correctly. Super-model, not just “model.” Ms. Dell’Orefice, blissfully unconcerned with the image projected by smooth-skinned, auburn/blonde younger models, holds her senior beauty with pride and elegance.

Self-acceptance first. It’s the key to it all.

What do you think about Valentine’s Day? How would you like to celebrate your uniqueness in this, the month of love? Once you’ve got the answer, your self-acceptance translates into an easier acceptance, even appreciation, of those around you, as we celebrate love, not of the few, but of all those who bless our world. Please share your statements and thoughts in the comments.

Noelle NelsonDr. Noelle Nelson is a psychologist, consultant and speaker. She is passionate about personal growth and happiness. She’s authored over a dozen books including “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” Please visit Noelle’s website.

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