Love in Busy Times

February is the month of love. Pink ribbons, hearts and roses seem to be everywhere we look. Do you feel a twinge when you see them because you are wishing for more love in your life? Are you doing anything else besides wishing? Hmm, did that question hit a nerve?

Your day is full. You wake up and already you feel you are behind in what you have to do. You jump out of bed and you are rushing until you finally collapse back into bed, with your brain still buzzing. When is there time to devote to relationships? Yet something tugs at your heart, you wish for more affection, greater understanding, and fun with your special someone, family and friends.

If your business keeps you so busy that you have no time for anything else, there must be something wrong, either with you or with your business. -- William J H Boetcker

How can you make love happen? By spending time with the people you love. What? You are still waiting for your soul mate? Or the one you once thought was your soul mate is now sorely testing your fortitude and patience? The solution to both challenges is the same. Love yourself. When we are not happy with ourselves no one else can make us feel good in the long term. We are like the mythical Chinese hungry ghosts, with tiny little mouths and huge bellies starving to be filled but unable to get enough nourishment in through the small openings to satisfy our hunger.

When we value ourselves and put our own needs into the equation, we can hear what our inner voice is telling us -- to create some balance in our lives. We take the time to honor our humanity; we are social animals and we need warm human interaction to thrive. We can consciously choose how we spend our time. Each person has the same 24 hours in a day, how we allocate the time determines what we get done and how happy we are.

You have no time because you have too much work to do? Are you really busy working all the time? Or are you frittering time away while "working" doing other mind and emotions numbing things because you are not happy with what you are doing? Checking social media, tweeting, reading celebrity news or rechecking the stock market or sports is not work. They are ways we avoid doing what we may not be motivated or interested in doing. Focus on what you are doing. When we devote our full attention to the task at hand, we are more productive and creative and that in itself is rewarding.

And when we are happy and engaged, our positivity is a magnet that draws other lively and interesting people into our lives, including your family and friends who are revitalized because you are. Do something that you are passionate about. Read, hike, dance, sing, paint, learn a new sport, hobby or skill; in short dare to do something that pleases you and stretches you. Take time to listen, really pay attention and you will find that other people have stories to tell, wisdom to share and that they are much more fascinating than when you absentmindedly pretended to be present. Then gradually you will find that love is in your life, with the people you already know, and if you are looking, that special someone will also appear. Here's to you and to love in busy times.

Instead of saying 'I don't have time' try saying 'It's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: 'I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority.' 'I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.' If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.' -- Laura Vanderkam