This is week six of the Season on Cultivation.
The virtue of humanity is excellence in interpersonal relationships. It is the virtue which allows us to forge caring, reciprocal relationships of all kinds (romantic relationships, friendships, parent-child relationships, etc.) with other individuals. Having humanity entails being loving, kind, and having social intelligence. We will explore each of these aspects as we return to this week year after year.
This year we focus our observance on love and cultivate our closest relationships. We open ourselves up to these important people, relying on them and supporting them in turn. We also pay attention to the excesses of love. We chart a middle course between being isolated and being totally dependent on those we care about.
[Peterson, Christopher, and Martin E. P. Seligman. Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2004. Print.]
● As we have seen before, the ancients are an excellent place to start when thinking about virtue. Read Plato’s classic treatment of love – his “Symposium.”
● Listen to this interesting talk on the neurobiology of love by anthropologist Helen Fisher, one of the leading scholars in the field.
● Read Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love. This is an engaging and thought-provoking reflection on romantic relationships from a leader in Humanist thinking.
● Celebrate Valentine’s Day. Some of you may be hesitant to engage with this holiday, but it can be an important reminder to think about one of the most fundamental aspects of the human experience. Take this opportunity to think seriously about your most intimate relationships (romantic or not), to address whatever issues you have, and to celebrate what is great about them. Maybe learn more about the history of the holiday. Maybe eat an aphrodisiac or two. There is no evidence that these foods actually increase arousal or do much of anything else related to love, but they can be fun symbols which help set a romantic mood.
● Try one of these fantastic activities from the VIA Institute, including movies to watch, songs to sing, and ideas for ways to cultivate your love.
● Do something nice for someone you love – whether that be cooking them dinner, running an errand for them, taking the time to visit them, or simply telling them that you love them. Somehow, make it clear that you care to the people you care about.
● Encourage others to cultivate their own love. Use the same list of activities from the VIA Institute, but think about how you could facilitate those experiences for others.
Have other ideas for how to celebrate Humanity Week? Comment below!