The start of a new year presents us with an opportunity for the traditional conversations about changing things, making life a better place, becoming healthier, less stressed or happier in ourselves. These are noble aspirations. But often a list of resolutions dies within days of it being conceived. The mistake is that we sometimes make the list far too comprehensive or overly ambitious. Long-term targets are harder to achieve because sometimes we lose sight of them. Short-term goals are much better. Change things right now! Make today a better day! Do all the right things NOW! Then our future is more likely to brighten up as we move along.
I think we should decide to connect better with other people. People need people. We have become much more insular. Over recent decades houses have been built closer to each other but people are actually further apart. We do not get to know people the way we used to. Happy people have lots of people in their lives. They are social creatures. We actually need to have people in our lives. Technology has sucked the magic out of how we connect with people around us. If we want a little more happiness in our lives than we need to tap into our greatest resource – each other! Here are some recommendations.
INVEST IN FAMILY AND FRIENDS!
Spend more quality time with family and friends. Let them know how special they are in your world. I have met too many people who regret never getting to know their children as they grew older. Family members who have become strangers to each other. Too busy! Or maybe they have taken their eye off the ball! We cannot go back and change the past but we can change things now. Family is paramount and we need to invest in it. Many survivors of crisis and turmoil highlight the love, support, and encouragement of family and friends in their testimonies of how they bounced back. Family and friends are our greatest resource. Are you investing in this resource or taking it for granted? Gaps are easily formed. Let’s connect better or reconnect if we have become distant to those to whom we are meant to be closest. No iphones, ipads, laptops or texting at the family table!! And all the family watching a movie together beats everyone doing their own thing on their own! Ring your sister or brother more! Arrange for more family time. And remember friendships dies easily if they are starved of the oxygen of communication.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS!
Often we forget that it’s perfectly fine to continue to reach out to people after we have had a family or even if we are already blessed with friends. New friendships are energising. Never be afraid to invite new people to your party! Maybe send a Christmas card next year to a neighbour whom you should know better than you do. If you hear of a neighbour’s good fortune you do not have to know them intimately to wish them well. This is just called being friendly! Wouldn’t you be excited if you received an invite to a party or function? Especially if it was unexpected!! Isn’t it a very warm feeling when someone shows an interest in you and your life? Spread a bit of that friendliness yourself!
FIND NEW PEOPLE!
Besides family and friends we need to connect to other people too. We may never get to know these people intimately (we don’t need to!) but it’s lovely having them around too. By joining a film society, golf club, choir or bowling club we will not only open ourselves to the enjoyment of the activity but also connect with other people from our community. Research confirms that people need people! New people give us new news! We will never feel ‘detached’ from life if we have other people in our lives.
If a neighbour has recently being bereaved reach out to him or her! Ask them how their Christmas was? It had to be lonely but by asking them you show that you care about them and that feels good to them. It will make you feel better too. Ask them if there is anything that you can do to help! If someone is living on their own check-in on them. If an elderly couple are lonely because their children have emigrated ask them about how they are doing! Often it is difficult to know what to say when you meet someone experiencing hurt. But this should not give you an excuse to disconnect from them. And remember helping others makes us feel good. Join St. Vincent De Paul and spend some time helping strangers in need. We all share this planet. Some of us are more privileged than others and maybe going around with the meals-on-wheels might help you be more grateful for the people in your life and for the life you have.
GO FOR REAL CONNECTING RATHER THAN TECHNOLOGY!
Nothing beats a phone-call or personal visit. Often texting is used instead. It’s a lazy option and the whole warmth of real and meaningful communication is lost in predictive text and beeps. Facebook and twitter may have a purpose but they can never and should never replace direct communication with our fellows. I remember receiving some text messages of sympathy on my mother’s death from people that could say the same words when they would meet me. Better than not any words at all but nothing like real words, facial expression and the chemistry of communication.
DON’T RESERVE FRIENDLINESS FOR ONLY THOSE WHO ARE FRIENDLY BACK!
We all need to make changes to our lives. This is the time of the year when we start talking about resolutions. I recommend offering our friendliness to those who normally are not recipients of our warm ways. It’s easy loving the lovable. It’s easy being friendly to people who are friendly back. It is more challenging to love those who seem unlovable and it also sets us free from toxic tactical manoeuvring!
(c) Shane Martin
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