by Scarlett Lewis from Paces Connection blog. Contributions made by Pamela Brown.
February is a special month – it’s Choose Love Awareness Month! It’s time to celebrate love and focus on our ability to choose love in our lives! For 28 days the Choose Love Movement shares daily action tips on ways you can bring more ‘Nurturing Healing Love’ to yourself and others all month long and beyond. We also share how you can live a Choose Love lifestyle by incorporating the Choose Love Formula into your daily life: Courage + Gratitude + Forgiveness + Compassion-in-Action = Choosing Love. This powerful formula guides you to nourish and strengthen your mind, body, and emotions by mindfully practicing these character values. Giving and receiving love enables us to take our power back through our thoughtful response which in turn will make a positive difference in every aspect of our lives and the world around us.
At the start of the new year, everyone has good intentions. We promise ourselves to be our best by making needed changes and redirecting our focus. But, as we are now living in such a complicated world, with 24/7 information coming to us through our phones, apprehension dealing with COVID, and life’s everyday stressors, it’s easy to lose focus. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, about 64% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. If you made a resolution to improve yourself and live a happier, stronger, and more inner-focused life or even if you didn’t make a resolution but want to make improvements, this is the month to refocus on YOU! Let Choose Love Awareness be your month to follow through on expanding your self-awareness and enhancing your well-being.
Taking part in Choose Love Awareness Month, doing the activities and sharing them with others is a powerful way to revitalize your life. It’s a choice. Please make the decision today to CHOOSE LOVE! It feels good and it can change your life for the better, in an instant! Think about where you can incorporate each value of the Choose Love Formula into your day-to-day routine. Let’s start with examples of each of the character values in our lives as well as the scientific benefits of practicing each one. COURAGE is the most powerful character value. We need courage to make good choices and to remind ourselves to always be grateful especially when things aren’t going our way or we’re feeling low, to forgive ourselves and others for mistakes, and even to step outside our own lives to help others!
I think about how much courage I practice on a daily basis. Being mindful of when I’m being courageous and understanding the scientifically proven benefits helps me get exponentially more from each experience. In the morning we all have a choice as soon as we open our eyes. How will we greet the day? Begrudgingly, because we are still tired and feeling overwhelmed? Or will we choose love and courageously greet the day with GRATITUDE and enthusiasm? When we choose to greet the day this way, research shows we will be happier, more empathetic and have higher self-esteem. People who are grateful also have stronger immune systems! Science tells us courage is like a muscle and we can practice it to strengthen it. Start practicing courage today by checking out the Choose Love Awareness calendar in our toolkit that you can find on our website! (chooselovemovement.org/CLAM2022).
I practice FORGIVENESS every day as well. People are sometimes amazed that I could forgive the young man who murdered Jesse but I know hurt people hurt people and that there was a lifetime of tremendous pain, isolation, loneliness, bullying and even abuse that led him to do what he did. If he had been able to manage his pain, had the ability to make different choices, had been able to give and receive ‘Nurturing Healing Love,’ the tragedy would never have happened. It’s actually harder for me to forgive transgressions that happen in my own family. This is something that I work on every day. These are people I know and love and sometimes that makes the process more challenging. I work on making the choice to forgive, cutting the cord that attaches me to pain and hurt, and then I send them love on top of that. This makes it a bit easier to make the choice again when I fall back into anger. I know through research that choosing to forgive reduces my anger, helps my relationships, strengthens my immune system and even enables me to live longer!
The key to hope and healing is COMPASSION-IN-ACTION! I learned this from Jesse’s older brother, JT. A group of orphan genocide survivors reached out to JT after Jesse’s murder and told him that he would be “okay and feel joy again.” They reached out with love which motivated JT to reach back out to them in love. He started raising money to send two orphan genocide survivors to a university and that felt so good. He kept going! He raised money to build self-sustaining fish ponds and poultry operations for former child soldiers in Uganda. JT heals himself by offering healing and hope to others. That is the definition of compassion-in-action and research proves it is the most powerful way to facilitate hope in healing within ourselves.
I continue to travel around the globe, spreading ‘Nurturing Healing Love’ and offering the Choose Love Formula as a way to Choose Love. It has been embraced by everyone, including prisoners that graduated last month from two of the first organized Choose Love programs offered by the Department of Corrections in New Hampshire. It was one of my favorite moments when they acknowledged that they now realized they had a choice and they chose love!
While you’re practicing Choose Love, be aware of how good this makes you feel. Be aware of how you gain power and strength and how this positively impacts other areas of your life. Be aware of your relationship with yourself, your family, and your co-workers. Choosing love helps us feel like we belong and feel worthy, it gives us self-esteem and helps us to face difficulty with grace. Thank you for Choosing Love and in doing so, making the choice that will ultimately help bring us together to make the world a safer, more peaceful and loving place!