Prioritise you social life
Energy flows where attention goes. Often we can be so deeply invested in our professional life because there are many urgent and important tasks to be tackled. As a result, non-urgent priorities - like spending time with friends - might slip out of our hearts and minds. In social life there are no tight deadlines, there is no boss. So, you need to consciously invest in your relationships. Schedule a weekly meeting, invite a co-worker for lunch, book a weekend for your family, smile and say a few kind words to the cashier or to your new neighbours - it all counts! Write an email or a letter to a friend or relative. Have fun while planning and use your imagination and stick to regular social activities like “pizza Friday”, “Sunday pancakes”, “Wednesday board games evening” - whatever you're keen on!
Step out of your comfort zone
Have you ever experienced an awkward feeling when you open-up to someone? It’s called VULNERABILITY and it’s one of the key factors needed to create and sustain meaningful relationships. And honestly, it might feel as though you have walked naked out of your house, but once you relax into it (breathe deeply), you’ll experience the transformative power of being emotionally exposed. What a great sign of courage! "What most of us fail to understand...is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave," says Dr. Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."
Not sure how and where to meet new folks? Check out some community initiatives in your area, at the local school, church, old people’s home, nature reserve OR you can even organise one, like cleaning the nearby park? There are plenty of organisations, which will be utterly grateful for your support. Not only might you boost your social life, but you could learn new skills, have fun, advance your career, and even reduce stress by experiencing a sense of purpose and belonging. What a great mix of social, physical and mental benefits, right? And remember: a community service might be as simple as planting a tree in front of your building together with a good friend.
Have you seen the movie ‘Yes, man’? Ok, don’t go as far as Jim Carrey did - agreeing with everything, including the most ridiculous suggestions, but you get the idea - be open to new (not all) opportunities. Someone inviting you over for dinner? Yes. A tea party, a cricket show, a mindfulness class… whatever - YES. It’s not so much about where, what and why (the logical part of our brain), but rather about sending the message: “Here I am, life. I’m ready for you!”. Try this out for yourself and soon you might find yourself receiving more invitations than ever!
Let’s face it - building a meaningful relationship requires an enormous amount of letting go of the illusion of control, surrender, authenticity, moments of discomfort and vulnerability; it takes time and effort. In a fast-paced, individualistic culture of instant gratification and superficial communication all of that is a challenge! To all of us. Keep in mind, be gentle to yourself and take baby steps. Be mindful of your small wins and achievements and celebrate every step forward. Mentally whisper to yourself kind words like “I’m doing the best I can. It’s a process. It will take time. It’s good that I’m trying”.
Be your own best friend!