While at breakfast last week, I overheard a table of guys talking about Valentine’s Day.

“What are you getting your wife this year?”

“Oh, you know, the usual—flowers and a card.”

“Yeah, I’m still working on it. But I’d better do something special this year or I’ll end up in the doghouse again. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. I mean—she knows I love her. Why do I have to jump through these hoops every year just to prove it?”

Good point. But if I asked his wife, she might have a different perspective. Perhaps this was one of the few times during the year when she felt appreciated.

The origins of Valentine’s Day date back to the first century when a day—February 14—was designated to honor martyred priests. One priest, Saint Valentine of Rome, believed in the power of love and was even imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who had been forbidden to marry. It wasn’t until the 14th century that the day was equated with courtly love, when lovers began presenting each other with flowers, confections, and greeting cards.

In our western culture, Valentine’s Day is still recognized on February 14th with the tradition of gifting flowers, candy, and cards. It has also become a popular commercial holiday for retailers—ranking up there with Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and 4th of July—providing a prime opportunity for merchandising and promotional events to coincide with the holiday.

Despite the commercialization, the core promise of celebrating love continues. But like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is simply another date on the calendar. If love is so important to our human connection and well-being, why celebrate it only once a year?

Love is something that should be expressed any day. If we expressed love more freely and openly, then perhaps Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be such a big deal—or even necessary.

With that in mind, here are a few ways to express love anytime without having to wait until February 14th:

Speak loving words. The words we choose have tremendous power. We may choose words that are harsh and demeaning or words that uplift and encourage. It’s our choice. And when we love someone, we should be even more conscious. Sounds simple, but it may not be easy—especially when emotions are triggered. If we take the time to think before we speak, we have the opportunity to choose our words more carefully.

Do loving things. Love in action is the highest form of love. The phrase “Actions speak louder than words” isn’t just a nifty saying. As highly visual creatures, we rely heavily on what we see as a significant contributor to our perceptions, so that’s why actions are so powerful. When we see actions, we witness intentions made manifest. And when we start with our heart, our actions will follow.

Learn your primary love language. Gary Chapman has written a series of poignant and powerful books about discovering our primary love language. Each of us experience and express love in different ways—through words; actions; touch; service; or gifts—and knowing this can dramatically affect our interpersonal communications and improve our relationships. It’s worth the read.

Give the gift of your time and attention. Spending time with people and giving them our undivided attention is priceless. We’re all busy—but if we pay attention and slow down our momentum, we can experience powerful moments of deep connection with others. When you’re talking with a friend or family member, eliminate your distractions, put down your phone, and really listen. You might be surprised by what you hear and even more satisfied by the connection you feel.

Be kind. We all have the ability to respond to life in different ways—and especially when we’re feeling stressed or angry, it can be even more difficult to practice patience and respond in loving ways. But kindness is always an option. We can stop, breathe, soften our stance, and choose kindness, even in the midst of chaos. Kindness can infiltrate our attitudes, actions, and words. And, often, simple acts of kindness are never forgotten.

Remember that it’s always a good time to celebrate love regardless of the calendar date. Take time this month to send someone you love a card, email, or text message or pick up the phone and tell them how important they are to you. If you’re comfortable telling them you love them, then go ahead. Otherwise, think loving thoughts about them and imagine them happy and fulfilled.

That’s what Saint Valentine of Rome would have done.

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg helps people find clarity and balance in all areas of their lives. Learn more at michaelcreative.com

Enjoyed this article? Find more of Michael’s stories, insights, and life lessons in Bald Men Don’t Use Hairspray and Other Assumptions, or another one of Michael’s books at michaelcreative.com/books

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Originally published at michaelcreative.com