Gretchen Rubin

A new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day — and one that doesn’t involve shopping, crafts, or calories.

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day associated with romantic love and exchanging gifts with your sweetheart.

But you can use the day to celebrate other kinds of love, too. The Greek word agape is defined in various ways, but according to one definition, agape means a selfless, benevolent, active love for mankind.

One of my most important Happiness-Project resolutions is to Give proofs of love. As Pierre Reverdy wrote, “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.” In other words, instead of claiming to feel love, I must show my love through actions.

“But,” you’re thinking, “I can think of ways to give a proof of love to my sweetheart (bring home flowers, clean out the garage), but how do I give a proof of love to mankind in general?”

It’s easy!

Be an organ donor. First, sign up on your state’s registry (do this even if you’ve already signed an organ donor card, to make sure you’re in the online registry, which is far more accessible to doctors). Second, talk it over with your family.

This second step is CRUCIAL. States differ about what happens if a person has signed up to donate but the family doesn’t want to donate, but whatever the law holds, it’s a tough situation.

Organ donation takes place at a time of shock and grief. Make it easy on your family by letting them know – from your own mouth – what you want them to do.

So today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, while you’re drinking champagne, or eating chocolates, or grousing about what a silly, consumerist holiday it is, take a minute to PROVE YOUR LOVE by telling your family you want to donate your organs. (Yes, it’s slightly out of step with the mood induced by champagne and chocolate, but do it anyway.)

Most likely, you’re making the decision to donate your organs now, in the abstract, out of agape, but one day it may be your sweetheart who is waiting for that phone call from the hospital, to say that an organ donor has been found.

So, really. Bring it up at dinner tonight.

Your Valentine’s Day today could mean that, five years from now, several people’s lives will be saved. That’s better than cards or chocolate. That’s proof of love.

And appropriately enough, I just discovered, today is National Organ Donor Day.

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Along with agape, another kind of love is family love. Check out my one-minute internet movie, The Years Are Short.

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