The other day a friend of mine shared how disconnected they felt. It was surprising, considering how much constant contact this person has with the world on a given day. How could they feel so lonely surrounded by so many people? Why did their interactions seem to create distance rather than cultivate the meaningful connections that their heart and soul craved? Perhaps you have been left wondering the same thing at the end of your busy day. You are not alone.
A recent survey showed that the number of Americans who say they have no close friendships has roughly tripled in recent decades. Despite having hundreds of friends online and continuous face to face contact, we have very few people we trust and know on a deep level. Isn’t it ironic that in the age of connectivity we are lonelier than ever?
How did we get here? And what can we do to turn the tide and reclaim intimate relationships with family and friends?
There has been a fundamental shift in our society that has left our hearts and souls craving meaningful connections. We have become human doings rather than human beings. Gone are the days where lingering is king and busyness is the joker. Our ability to be thoughtful and aware has been replaced with hurry and inattentiveness. Our world tells us over and over again that our value comes from what we are doing and producing rather than who we are becoming. In our pursuit of productivity and worth, we have lost the art of cultivating meaningful connections. This is a significant barrier to our core practice of share who you are.
But you and I don’t have to fall into the trap of doing rather than being. We have the freedom to spend our time in ways that will give life to our souls and leave us feeling seen, known and loved. And it is a gift that we can give others so that they too can share who they are!
So, how can you set yourself up for success?
First, it is important to recognize that time is not created equal. It’s the old adage of quality versus quantity. Shoot for time with others that is distraction free, even if it is only for a few minutes.
Second, no one will do this for you. Cultivating meaningful relationships will be an intentional act on your part.
With that in mind, here are three things you can do to help you be more focused and engaged with the ones you care about.
Unplug: Technology is a blessing and a curse. It is wonderful to have a supercomputer at our fingertips but in reality, we rarely need it throughout the day. (Notice I said need it…I really we may want it, but there is a difference). When you are about to spend some quality time with someone you care about, unplug from your device. Turn off notifications and alerts. They will only distract you. Don’t worry…your Instagram feed will still be there when you’re done.
Turn-Off: Again, technology is great but it comes with a price. It will sidetrack you and keep you from connecting in a meaningful way. Turn off the television. Put your cell phone on silent (not vibrate…you can still hear and feel that and in the end, it will divert your attention!) No need to fret. Your voicemail is ready to take whatever important call comes your way and tv…well, trust me, you’re not missing out!
Tune-In: Now that you have been bold and courageous and set your devices aside, you are ready and able to give your whole self to another. Listen…watch…notice. You be amazed at how being fully present with another fills your heart and soul.