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hands hold a red felt heart and there are rose petals on the grass underneath
by Niya McCray-Brown, Director of Community Engagement

“Love” is one of the most difficult words to define. Human beings often think about this essential experience by narrowing their focus to love’s attributes. 

  • Is “love” a simple feeling or a complex discipline? 
  • Does “love” show up as grand gestures or subtle, intimate moments? 
  • Is “love” felt most when given or received? 

Our experiences of love play a major role in our mental health and wellness. Thinking about love is natural because we all crave and need love and belonging to survive. But love has proven it transcends our imaginations’ attempts to define it over and over again. Our personal experiences are an excellent starting point to begin to imagine the full scope of love, however, due to societal narratives and pressures, people frequently understand the beautiful melody of love as just a single note - that of romantic relationships. 

In honor of this season of love, allow me to uplift some of the other harmonious elements of love’s melody.


Self-love, when done right, is the metronome of your dynamic love melody. It balances and syncs your ability to love others based on your capacity, needs, and goals. Loving yourself is the foundation of all other expressions of love.

Community love

Universal forms of love for our family, friends, and environments are not often the center of Valentine’s Day activities or celebrated in movies, but these are undeniably a critical part of our sense of well-being and belonging. You can create harmony in your life by fostering your relationship with your community through spontaneous check-ins, volunteering, or simply being present with loved ones or in nature to show your appreciation for them.

Pet love

Furry, scaly, or feathered, pets bring a sense of comfort, humor, and affection to the lives of their human caretakers. Pets teach us patience and the importance of routines. Bonds created with pets are filled with compassion and care that overflow into our treatment of others and our environment.


Hobbies, traditions, and goals can be a tremendous source of fulfillment in our daily lives. These practices inspire individuals to strive toward being their best selves and contribute meaningfully to their world. You may love to cook, read, garden, sing, or create and these passions deserve recognition as an expression of love as well.

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The beautiful melody of love is constantly being composed and has a unique tune for every individual. Above are a few examples of unexpected displays of love, but you are the composer of your own piece of “love” music. You can identify one of your personal loves that is special and unique to your own life and fill in the blank here.

Mental Health America is here to provide resources to help you take care of your mental health, practice self-care, and foster healthy relationships. Visit our Spread the Love campaign page to read, listen, or engage with our other resources to boost your sense of belonging this love season.