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“I can’t believe it’s only February! I feel like I haven’t had a moment’s rest since the holidays!”

Does that sound like you? Worn out. Tense. Exhausted.

Take a deep breath and exhale.

And one more for good measure.

Do you feel better already?

Good.

My friend really captured our collective mood in just a few sentences. Everyone gets stressed, but it’s staying in those feelings that keeps us stuck. Whatever we’re bothered by becomes the boss of us and we shut down. And you can’t have meaningful connections when you’re shut down – the two ideas are mutually exclusive. We’ll focus on ways to manage this tension in the February series, The Relaxed Heart.

On Being host Krista Tippett fell passionately in love with her husband, only to discover as their romance cooled that they had almost nothing in common. In no time, they went from adoration to a state Krista describes as each being “so alone in our marriage.”

Krista recreated her life with her two young children following their divorce, and it worked. Well, kind of. She found a different place to live, expanded her circle of friends…but not a new romantic partner. Love was missing, or so she thought.

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Then Krista looked past the pain of a failed marriage. She stepped away from a society telling her with every prime time commercial that she needed a partner. Keeping her eyes peeled for her next romance meant that she was missing the rich expressions of love all around her. She recalls:

“After my divorce, I created a welcoming home and took great delight in my children. I cooked dinner for gatherings of friends old and new, invested in beautiful far-flung friendships, and drew vast sustenance from webs of care through the work I do. Yet I told myself, for years, that I had a hole in my life where “love” should be—as though without a romance, the many other kinds of love in my life didn’t really count. As though without someone who loved me in a certain way, I could never be complete. This is the opposite of a healing story—it’s a story that perceives scarcity in the midst of abundance.”

Something is going to get on your nerves this week – that’s just part of life. However, moments of love are also trying to get your attention. Are you breezing past them or making them count?

Be someone who talks about ideas rather than personalities. The rest of the room will thank you for shifting the conversation before it gets nasty.

Show how you can have a tough day at work but leave all the trouble where it belongs – at the office. Why waste time replaying that hard meeting over and over in your mind? Once you’re home, be present with your family and your pets, who desperately crave your attention.

And give yourself some love the next time you pay bills. You may feel a little blue as your bank balance shrinks, but being responsible with money is an accomplishment.

With a relaxed heart, understanding and affection are suddenly everywhere. And that’s a love that counts.