In February, many of us are buying poetic little cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and proclaiming the deepest affections for our loved ones. Although it’s wonderful to honor love on Valentine’s Day, I believe these feelings should be celebrated every day, and not just with those whom we consider that “special someone.” My cats totally get this. They don’t need an official day to act more sweetly — or more cranky, for that matter — to me or anyone else. Cats may not have the opposable thumbs to sign a Hallmark card, but their love is unconditional and they effortlessly demonstrate it.
Here are a few things my cats have taught me about real love:
â€¢ Don’t be afraid to show your feelings — You never have to guess what a cat is thinking, do you? They wear their hearts on their fuzzy little sleeves and are straight shooters when it comes to their feelings. My cats aren’t shy about affection. They rub against my leg, jump in my lap and snuggle close to me with absolutely no hesitation. They don’t fear I might reject them — they simply follow their hearts and act accordingly.
I sometimes worry about how people might react if I act affectionately or enthusiastically compliment them on something I appreciate. Maybe I don’t want them to think I’m that weird girl who’s all into her feelings. But why? I am that weird girl who’s all into her feelings and I love that about myself.
â€¢ Be kind — Sometimes it feels difficult to act nicely toward people who treat me unkindly. I try to remember they may just be having a bad day and send them a little extra love because he or she must really need it. Some days this is easier than others. Cats understand this one and offer love no matter what kind of day I’m having, how much I’m ranting, or how many cabinet doors I slam. They’re there for me just like little angels…or therapists. Their peaceful energy calms me and reminds me everything will be OK. I will try to remember that when I run across ranting, cabinet door-slamming individuals.
â€¢ Engage and Be Present — It can feel easy to feel self-focused in conversations and relationships, in general. Occasionally I do this because I feel nervous and become overly chatty in order to fill the space. Becoming a good question-asker has helped me reach out and show others I truly care about what’s going on in their lives. Just as important as asking questions is the gift of active listening. Really, it’s all about being present, which cats have nailed — hands-down.
â€¢ Forgive — There is no opposite of love — love is all there is. When we hold grudges and harbor anger and resentment, we are not acting in love. Cats are great models for us to remember to let go and forgive. If I’m late feeding them or ban them out of my bedroom because they’re keeping me awake, do you think they sit around and stew about it? Maybe for a moment or two or three, but then it’s like it never happened. As humans, we’re going to experience painful emotions, but our ability to move through them and shed resentment is key to experiencing and sharing true love. It’s actually more than key — it’s absolutely necessary.
So enjoy the festivities surrounding February 14, but remember to shine your love light year-round! And if we need reminders, let’s look to our fuzzy little angels/therapists — they’ve already got it all figured out.