Monday, November 13, 2017

101 Ways To Live Better: Spend Time With Family & Friends

Welcome to my 101 series, which explores 101 little things you can do to improve your day to day life, and the world, just a little bit.


What is the number one thing that people regret on their deathbed? Not spending more time with family and friends. What is the number one indicator for overall life satisfaction and happiness? The quality of and individual’s connection with their family and friends. Why do unmarried men die much earlier than married ones? Because men rarely forge the bond with friends that women do. Single men die of loneliness. Baby animals, given all the warmth and food they need, still die without contact with a parent or surrogate. Human babies, denied affection, show ‘failure to thrive’ and may never learn to walk or talk or even crawl.

Humans are social. Without socialization, we suffer, we even die. However I hope no one reading this blog is at that end of the extreme. I hope you all have friends, if not families, who love you. This blog post isn’t about avoiding death though, its about making the most of the connections you do have with friends and family, so you, and they, live longer and happier lives.

Great connections are like amazing gardens. They don’t happen spontaneously. They require some degree of knowledge and planning, they start slow and ugly and build, with lots of care, time and effort, into something productive and beautiful. They may look effortless and natural, but that is part of the charm. Don’t be fooled, the people with great relationships with family and friends are working on them constantly.

The most important thing is to make time for people. Its a busy age. We all have a lot on. You need to prioritize the things, and people, that are most important to you and tend to those things first. Don’t cancel plans with people unless you are on death’s door. Keep your promises, be reliable, so people understand how much they mean to you.

You should also aim to have quality time. Don’t do the same thing, day in, day out. Go to different places, have new experiences, make time to talk, alone, without distractions or do things you can work as a team. Go beyond the superficial and forge connections that matter to you, in a way that matters to you.

It is also important to remember relationships go both ways. Have standards for people’s behavior. If you are the only one sustaining the friendship and putting effort in, its not really a friendship. You’re just a fan. You don’t have to tolerate that. Put effort into the people who put effort into you. Don’t be afraid to cut someone out of your life if they don’t treat you with love, respect and mutual enthusiasm. Trust me, the moment you stop wasting time on those people, people who are excited to spend time with you will come into your life.

Most importantly, remember this is about being happy around people you enjoy. Its not a mission. Its not a job. Its something you want to develop to be happier and live longer. Take joy in the times you spend with friend and family, be grateful you have them and one day look back on your life with joy.

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