THE BLOG
02/05/2013 02:54 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2013

Expand Valentine's Day Love for One Into Compassion for Many

At this time of year, there's a lot of talk about love, and love is truly a wonderful thing to give and receive, but you can make it even bigger, better and bolder if you combine love with compassion. Compassion is a heartfelt concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others. It's when you feel or show care, mercy, tolerance, kindness or charity towards something or someone outside of yourself. That could be a person, an animal or even the earth.

Imagine what the world would be like without compassion. The opposite of compassion is not only cruelty, but also indifference. When we practice indifference, we ignore the importance of all life on this planet, including the planet itself.

Here are a few ways you can cultivate more love and compassion for life beyond just Valentine's Day.

Volunteer
There are plenty of organizations or schools that need an extra set of hands or intelligence. These usually exist right in your own community. Check out VolunteerMatch.Org to find the right fit for you.

Donate
If you don't have time, but do have resources, you can set up a monthly donation to your favorite charity, food bank or homeless shelter. And don't worry about not giving enough. Most organizations make the bulk of their revenue through small donors. Every dollar counts.

Help a Friend
Times are tough, and we all know people in our lives who are suffering to some extent. Maybe it's finances, a divorce or a death in the family. There's always something you can do to help that person feel better. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and feel how they feel. Even a hug or a card with a personal note could help.

Forgive Someone
Forgiveness is truly a gift you give yourself. It doesn't matter if the person forgives you as well. What matters is that you've released a negative burden for both parties, and you can move on with your life.

Adopt a Pet
There are thousands of abandoned or abused dogs and cats in animal shelters that need a warm, loving place to live. Check out your local animal shelter or humane society. Many of them have online sites where you can view the animals up for adoption.

Make the World a Better Place
What's your passion? Is it cleaning up the environment? Saving the rain forest? Stopping the world's sex slave issue? Feeding the hungry? Empowering young girls? Eradicating a disease? Preventing suicide? Everyone has something they would like to improve in the world. Find a like-minded organization or start your own. The time is now.

When you truly see and feel the plight of others in this world, your own problems will seem small in comparison and your heart will expand to the greater good of all humanity.

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