Rebooting Valentine’s Day as Generosity Day

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Single? In a bad relationship? Or so in love that the idea of celebrating only your own romance on Valentine’s Day seems too small to capture the abundance of unity and connection in the world?

In that case — and, moreover, if you just want to improve your health — Generosity Day may be for you. The idea is to move beyond merely celebrating romantic love, and instead honor all of our connections to one other.

Sasha Dichter, the director of business development for the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit aimed at fighting global poverty using business tools, suggested Generosity Day on his blog on Friday, writing:

This Monday, Valentine’s Day, is going to be rebooted as Generosity Day: one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying “Yes.” Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection — because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly.

Want to participate? All you have to do is be kind: tell people — who aren’t your partner — what they mean to you, give compliments, donate to charity, overtip, etc. Dichter is asking participants to report their efforts on Facebook here or to use the Twitter hashtag #generosityday.

The recipients of your generosity won’t be the only ones who benefit. There’s now a huge body of research suggesting that kindness, caring and other forms of social support improves not only the health of the receiver, but also that of the donor — perhaps even more. Connecting with each other is one of the best ways to relieve uncontrollable stress, which has been linked with increased risk for virtually all diseases, mental and physical.

Considering that loneliness is actually as unhealthy as smoking, let’s use Valentine’s Day — which for many people produces disappointment and makes isolation feel worse — to connect, not just couple.

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