How to love being single on Valentine’s Day—and every day

Reading Time: 5 minutes No other day of the year do you feel your single status so strongly as on Valentine’s Day. Here’s why that’s actually a really great thing.

Mind your mind: Your Valentine’s Day survival guide

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s February—time to start stressing out about our love lives. In all seriousness, dating and romance are great (when they’re going well), but Valentine’s Day can sometimes bring a little stress with it. When I’m single on Valentine’s Day, I stress about why I’m not dating. When I’m in a relationship, I fret about buying gifts and planning dates. Meanwhile, the greeting card and chocolate moguls laugh at me as they swim in heart-shaped pools filled with money.

Good news: If your dating life is giving you a headache, there’s another aspect of your relationships that you can focus on, one that will make you feel great: gratitude.

How to strengthen your gratitude muscle

Gratitude isn’t just some quasi-spiritual cliché. Research suggests that gratitude has a huge impact on well-being and mental health. Studies show that grateful people are happier, less stressed, and less prone to anxiety or depression. They cope more effectively with problems, they sleep better, and—special Valentine’s Day fact!—they are more satisfied with their relationships.

Gratitude is a quality you can develop, like exercising a muscle. Here are two methods for doing so, courtesy of the great positive psychologist, Dr. Martin Seligman.

1. Keep a gratitude journal

I can’t recommend this practice enough. It’s quick and easy, yet Dr. Seligman has found (and, from experience, I agree) that it brings long-lasting benefits. Here’s the practice:

At the end of each day, write down:

  • Three things that went well that day, and
  • Why those things happened.

I find this especially satisfying when I choose things that involve my relationships with others. So if one of your three things is “Cooked a great meal with my roommate,” your “reason why” might be “We’ve been making an effort lately to spend more time together” or “She’s an amazing cook.” This practice trains us to spot and savor the positive things in our lives.

2. Make a gratitude visit

Here’s what you do:

  • Think of someone who has shown you incredible kindness—someone whom you never fully thanked and who lives near enough for you to visit.
  • Write the person a short letter expressing heartfelt gratitude. Say what this person did for you, how it affected your life, and how that makes you feel. Don’t mail it yet.
  • Get in touch with the person, and say you’d like to visit.
  • Meet the person, and read the letter aloud.

Give your heart on Valentine’s Day

Reading Time: < 1 minute

More than 120,000 people in the US are waiting for an organ: parents, children, college students, grandparents, and others. By signing up to be an organ donor, you have the power to save a life. Actually, several lives: one organ donor can save up to eight people. There are misconceptions about being an organ donor, so let’s check the facts:

  • If you are sick or injured and are admitted to a hospital, the #1 priority is to save your life.
  • Most major religions in the US support organ donation.
  • Being an organ donor doesn’t cost any money to you or your family.
  • When matching donors and recipients, several factors are considered, including severity of illness, blood type, and other important medical information. Race and celebrity status aren’t relevant.

How do I sign up?

Registering as an organ donor is easy. Sign up in your state.

How can I save a life today?

Donate blood! It’s easy and free. First time donor? Here’s what you need to know:

  • Every two seconds, someone in the US needs a blood transfusion.
  • The most common blood type requested by hospitals is Type O–but all blood types are needed.
  • You can donate blood every six to eight weeks, which is the time it takes for your body to replenish the red cells used in the donation.
  • You can’t contract HIV from donating blood.
  • While the blood is tested for disease, donating blood is not the same as getting tested for HIV/AIDS (if you are at risk for HIV/AIDS, you shouldn’t donate blood). If you want to be tested for HIV, visit your student health center.