3 Things Single People Can Do to Feel the Love on Valentine's Day

I know, I know: It's the day of vermillion greeting cards covered in hearts, red roses, and candlelit dinners — yuck.

I may have Sweet Pants, but after years and years of being single — as well as a few years of dating lame-o's who both under-promised and under-delivered on February 14 — I can be a Valentine's Day curmudgeon with the best of them.

But as with all holidays, this one can be what you make it. And — especially since the links between Saint Valentine and any romantic legend are tenuous at best — why not make this a holiday about love for all your fellow humans, rather than for someone you're shagging. What do you say?

Maybe part of the reason I suggest this is because I'm re-reading The Brothers Karamazov right now (as part of my homework for that book about love and literature I'm writing, which will be called Much Ado About Loving). One very lovely character in the novel — a wise priest who's lived a little — makes a great speech in which he says:

Love one another ... [Each of us] is responsible to all humankind for all and everything, for all human sins [and all human suffering] ... Only through that knowledge [of how other people suffer], do our heart grows soft with infinite, universal, inexhaustible love. Then every one of you will have the power to win over the whole world by love and to wash away the sins of the world with your tears.

I do think love can grow from love — even, and maybe especially, in this crazy and competitve and game-playing world. Think of how empowering it can be to say to yourself: "Who needs to look for love? Who needs to receive it? Not me. If I get it, great, but I also have so much love to give! So I'm going to spread it around without expecting anything in return." You'll feel stronger if you have that attitude, and I think you might also be surprised about what boomerangs back to you.

Anyway, I will get down off of my crazy horse now, and go on to suggest three proactive things you can do to feel great and full of love today — even if you're single.

Make an "I Love You" sign.

You know how you walk into your favorite coffee shop, or the library, and there are homemade signs — "Roommate Needed" or "Babysitter Available" — with little tear-off tabs along the bottom that have the number to call if you're interested? Yes, you do. Now, using that as your model, make a sign that says nothing but "I LOVE YOU" with little tabs along the bottom that say "I love YOU" or "You are loved." Hang it up in the local cafe, or in the break room at your office, or even in the laundromat or the lobby of your building. (Credit where it's due: This idea originally came from a website that's been taken down.)

Hand out Hershey's Kisses.

Okay, so it's not as awesome as the "I Love You" sign. But you will get immediate gratification if you hand someone a little tiny piece of chocolate love.

Give to a person who is in special need.

Contact a local charity and find out about someone they work with who is in special need of help. You don't need to know the person's name, but knowing his or her story will help you to feel like you're making a real difference in an individual life — and like you've spread the love. Or else post something on Facebook, asking if your friends know of someone who's especially in need of financial assistance — or even simply some home-baked cookies.

The real point of this post is: Hey, you've got plenty of love inside of you! Sprinkle it around, and let it grow.

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