Here is a quick story to remind us about the true meaning of community.
Ten years after John Chhan and his wife, Stella, emigrated to the United States from Cambodia, they opened a small donut shop in the southern California town of Seal Beach. Since 1990, they arrived for work at 2:30 AM, seven days a week, to make sure there were plenty of donuts for their customers when the shop opened at 4:30 AM. They loved their community and their community loved them back.
One morning, Dawn Caviola, a shop regular of 13 years, noticed that John was alone in the shop. She asked about Stella; John told her that his wife had suffered an aneurysm and was recovering in a rehabilitation facility. Not seeing them together like she had for so many years surprised Dawn, and she posted a quick note on the social media platform Nextdoor.com to spread the word among the locals.
The community was quick to offer help, but when someone suggested they start a GoFundMe campaign to help the couple, John refused. He said that what he wanted more than money was time to be with his wife.
Word continued to spread and people of the community started lining up to buy donuts… and lots of them. Even people who didn’t eat donuts were frequenting the shop to buy a dozen, just to give them away and help support the couple. The faster the shelves clear out, the sooner that John could call it a day and close shop and visit his wife – on good days, he sold out by 8:30 AM.
His wife eventually recovered and was able to speak again and she also relearned how to feed herself. John expressed his gratitude that the community listened, responded and gave him the precious gift of time.
Sometimes the things that are most helpful result from simple gestures or small acts of kindness, born from listening to the people in our community, and given with love and respect.
It is easy to show your love on Valentine’s day. Sure, it may be hard to get a reservation at your favorite restaurant, but the world conspires to remind you why you liked someone in the first place. There is no shortage of chocolate, flowers or greeting cards to lavish someone with attention; and that is a good thing.
And it is important to remember that Valentine's Day is not just about romantic love. It's an appropriate time to recognize all the people we care about.
However, people who have been in each other’s lives for a long time will tell you that the real secret to having a relationship that lasts a lifetime is what you do the rest of the year. Anyone can give a greeting card, but knowing how to handle a real disagreement is far more valuable.
Let the anger brew for a while. Many therapists and couples say to forget that adage about immediately resolving a disagreement. Time away clears our mind and vents unresolved issues. It may be easier to let go of frustration after a good night’s sleep. Just make sure to find time to resolve the argument as soon as possible.
Hug your friends or smooch your kids. Quit using logic to try and win a fight— a sincere hug works faster and lasts longer. Scientifically, people are more chemical than logical. During stressful situations, we generate chemicals like cortisol and epinephrine; a hug or a kiss tells our brain to create a chemical cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. That chemical release makes us feel good and possibly forget about an insignificant argument far faster than any amount of logical rhetoric.
Conflict is part of all growing relationships; the secret is letting go of unimportant upset and nurturing the important feelings which enrich our lives.
Remember to always celebrate love in your own way. What worked in the past may not be what you need in the future.
Happy Valentine’s Day!