January is the month of resolutions. Each year, we take time to review our lives and decide which habits we hope to create or get rid of in order to live a more fulfilling life.
We pledge to exercise more, eat better, save more, be more productive, be less stressed, wake up earlier, stop procrastinating, and just generally do more. We pledge to be happier. Unfortunately, life is complicated and come February or March, our new routines are often abandoned and forgotten – which is normal! All of us are susceptible to losing our determination and motivation.
This year, instead of always trying to do more, add more, and be more – try to focus on being present, accepting, and mindful of what you already have. Don’t wake up earlier to have more hours – rather change the way you’re using the hours you already have.
For 2017 we’ve created a five-part blog series that focuses less on adding and doing more, and more on simply being present and focused with things as they are. If you missed Part 1 on how mindful meditation can help you be present – you can check it out here.
Being present with those who matter most
Although many of us know and understand the importance of family and friends, we don’t always give them the attention they deserve. In fact, studies have revealed that the biggest predictor of your happiness is actually the extent of your social relationships. Not only that, but family and friends have been shown to help reduce your stress levels, improve your ability to fight disease, reduce your risk of dementia, and help you live longer.
However despite many of us knowing how important our loved ones are to us, too often we let life get in the way – dinners are eaten around the TV, conversations are interrupted by texts, calls, and notifications, and game nights turn into everyone checking their device in the same room.
Our modern, multifaceted, digital world has forced us into a habit of multitasking while at work or on-the-go, which unfortunately has now leaked into our personal lives as well.
It’s an easy habit to fall into, but unfortunately at a high cost to things that matter most to us – our beloved family and friends.
Although many of us already make time for family and friends, too often we aren’t actually present with them. We respond to texts and calls while getting drinks, check email while playing with our kids, or scroll through timelines while watching a family movie.
These subtle interruptions may seem insignificant by themselves, but can take a toll on your quality of relationships, and therefore your quality of life.
So this year, instead of trying to fit in more dinner parties, more coffee dates, or more play time with your kids – try to be present during the times you already have.
It’s time to log out, shut down, turn off all the noise, and pay attention to what’s already in front of you.
Here’s a list of ideas you can try to help you be present with those that matter most:
- Create a device basket for all phones, tablets, and laptops to go into during dinner.
- Make eye contact with your friends over drinks
- Spend a night just listening to your friends or family
- At dinner, refuse to talk about events that have already passed or in the future – spend the evening talking about the now – how everyone is currently feeling
- Play “Would You Rather” – for example, “Would you rather meet your favorite artist at a concert, or have their phone number?”
- Give someone a hug
- Have everyone in your family pick a Youtube video to show everyone after dinner
- Instead of texting, give someone a call
- Find out what your kids’ or friends’ favorite movie is
- Enjoy silence with someone
- Sit back and watch your kids play
- Build a fire
What helps you be present for those who matter most? We’d love to hear how you help your relationships thrive in the comments below!