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.