Day 29: Time Together

Do you remember being in college and sitting for hours on a dorm room bed deep in conversation about the nature of life and existence?

Maybe you remember lying in a lover’s bed talking about lost loves, dreams, fears, and hopes. Or maybe you remember sitting in a foggy car with a friend discussing music, movies, and the power of literature.

You used to make time for other people. But somewhere along the way you lost this. You no longer have long conversations with people. Now, you send texts and instead of having long conversations.

Why is this? Why is it that we go from long talks and expressing deep feelings to short conversations where we just express the details of dinner?

The answer is simple: Time.

The Importance of Time
Time is more valuable than money, information, and power combined. You can’t purchase, cajole, or create time. Sure you can manage your tasks and do more with the time you have, but you can’t get more of it.

No matter how you slice it, everyday has 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds (which we round up to 24 for good measure.) And nothing you do can change that.

So if time is our greatest resource, why do we spend so little of it on our relationships? At the end of life many people wish they’d spent more time with family, friends, and loved ones. And yet so often making time for those close to us get’s relegated to the margins of life.

But what if you changed this? What if you made it a priority to spend time with those you love? How would this affect the depth of your relationships? The closeness you feel to others? And the happiness you experience?

How to Make More Time

Here are some things I’ve tried that creates more time with the people I care about:

1. Schedule long slow dinners –
Often we schedule fast dinners or just eat over the sink, but dinners have been a source of deep connections for most of modern life. So instead of having short dinners, try having dinners where you take your time, enjoy your food, and really talk to eachother.

2.Ask Deep Questions –
Studies show that 80% of the questions that get asked in relationships are about details or preferences. Where would you like to go to dinner? When do we need to pick up the kids? When should we go visit your parents?

It amazes me how we are more curious about people we meet at cocktail parties than we are about people closest to us.

Next time you talk to someone you care about ask a DEEP QUESTION! Ask what their dreams are, what they’re afraid of, and what excites them.

If you can be as interested in your loved ones as you are of strangers, you’ll learn a lot and deepen your relationships.

3. Make time for what matters to them –
We all make time for the things we have in common. But often we’re less open to trying the things other people enjoy.

Instead of looking for common ground make time for what they like to do. Especially if it’s outside your comfort or interest zone. And when you do, don’t worry about loving it yourself, just figure out why it brings them joy.

I’ve talked to dozens of people who have interests that would bore me, but I love seeing their eyes light up as they explain how awesome turn of the century cabinet making is. It’s not the wood that makes it interesting, it’s the people.

4. Go early –
Go early to the movies, to dinner, to a play, or to a concert. The down time before an event is a great time to talk, because you’re both excited about what next it’s easier to be open and connect. Of course this only works if you don’t bury your head in your phone, so turn off your screen and turn your attention to your companion.

5. Go on adventures-
I have a friend who told me recently they aren’t going to go on dates anymore, only adventures. And I love this idea. When I was a kid my family had a weekly outing we called adventures in eating, where we would try some new food we’d never had before.

Going on adventures is fun and a great way to connect with someone. Plus when you experience heightened emotions, the connection you create is often deeper and more lasting.

6. Make a schedule –
Probably the simplest way to make time is to schedule it. You can plan a date night once a week, host a monthly brunch at your house, or have a family movie night.

If you can make it part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine then the process of creating and maintaining deep connections becomes, much, much easier.

OK now it’s your turn:

Challenge #29: Time together

Choose one of the techniques above and try it tonight. Some of them you can do right away, but some may need to be scheduled. Just make sure you take action quickly, because it’s too easy to think about all the reasons it might not work.

Then reflect on these questions:
How did it feel to make time for someone you care about?
Is this something you’d like to do more often?
If it is, how will you remember?
Did you take action right away?
If not why not?
What if anything might prevent you from making time for those you care about?

As always share in one or all of the following ways:
1. Blog – Write a post about which practice you chose and why. Or write about why you struggle to make time for important relationships.
2. Post – Using #30dayhappy and/or posting in our Facebook group share which technique you chose and why.
3. Comment – Tell me how you make time for the people you deeply care about in the comments below.


Day 23: Relationships

Open Heart

When I was young I trusted people. I was open with them and shared myself freely. But over time this trust was tested. I can remember many times in high school and college when I put myself out there and expressed my feelings of love or friendship only to have them rebuked.

I can remember one time in particular where I told someone how much they meant to me as a friend and they replied that they couldn’t be friends with me because I was too intense. And so slowly over time, I closed my heart.

Closed Heart
Once I closed my heart, I hid behind an acerbic wit and various masks to hide my authentic self. And it worked. I stopped putting myself out there and I stopped getting hurt, or at least when I was hurt I could hide it well.

And that’s how I stayed until I went to the monastery. At the monastery I was encouraged to drop my masks, and because I felt safe, I began to show my authentic self again. I slowly learned how to have an open heart, while also seeing people for the beautiful and sometimes flawed beings they are.

Cynics and Romantics
Often when I talk to people about their relationship problems I see in them one of these versions of my former self. And it’s usually the cynical version of myself, because the world tends to stomp on idealists.

These born again cynics have felt heart break, the pain of loss, and thus are hesitant to be fully open to the people around them.

But there are some people, who are more like my younger self. They’re more open, and they have an unrealistic view of what relationships. They tend to idealize their partners and the idea of romantic love, only to end up being disappointed again and again.

But whether they are cynics or romantics their problem is essentially the same. They think the problem with their relationships is other people.

It’s Not Other People
It almost never is other people. In fact 90% of the time, the problem is you.

And I’m not saying this because I think you suck. I’m saying this because you were never taught how to create real and deep connections in your life.

Love isn’t an emotion, a feeling, an energy, a wish, a hope, a dream or a conclusion. Love is a skill, an act, and a process.

As my father once told me, you don’t just fall in love once. If you want to stay in love you have to fall in love again and again. And this is just as true for your friendships and family relationships as it is with your romantic partners.

Which is why Phase 4 is all about how create deep connections with the people in your life.

Ok Now for the challenge.

Day 23: Relationships

  1. Practice: Answer the following questions –
  • Are you more of a romantic or a cynic or a mix of both?
  • What do you think would be possible if you could consistently create deep connections with those around you?
  • How strong do you think your relationships are?
  • Is there anyone in your life you’d like to have a deeper connection with?
  • How did you learn how to communicate in relationships?
  • How did your parents or guardians communicate growing up?
  • How did they show love?
  • What patterns of communication do you struggle with the most?
  • What kind of relationships do you struggle with the most?
  1. Reflect:
  • Once you’ve answered these questions look back over what you’ve written and see if you can get a picture your current approach to creating connection.
  • What strengths or abilities help you connect with others?
  • What obstacles will you have to overcome in order to connect more deeply?
  1. Share: As always share in one or more of the following ways
  • Blog: Write a post about any of your answers to the practice questions or about the strengths and obstacles you observed.
  • Post: Using #30dayhappy and/or posting in our Facebook group, share one strength or one obstacle you discovered around you ability to connect with others.
  • Comment: Share an answer to any of these questions or a question of your own in the comments below.