#107 Have a Girls/Guys Weekend

It can be just one friend or a dozen as long as drama, personality differences, and complaints stay home.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#107

Have a Girls/Guys Weekend

Yesterday’s post – recommending that we occasionally ask for a hug – spoke to the importance of feeling connected – to  having a sense of belonging. This suggestion is another that will help foster the sensation of ‘belonging’ by bringing together those people that constitute our tribe.

Early Start

We may start developing the need to surround ourselves with favorite peeps as early as those playgroups that mom drug us to. For others, that desire began in daycare or school but either way – it only blossoms. Soon, we are asking for sleepovers and ‘hanging out’; we want to be encircled by other like-minded souls as often as possible. This is especially true through adolescence when we begin discovering how we are different from our family of origin and downright ‘need’ the sense of sameness.

Grown-up Play Dates

Our need for friendship and belonging doesn’t change as we mature. It does however, become more difficult to get those needs met as we marry, have children, full-time jobs and the daily responsibilities of home life. Our giggling late night conversations with our best friends are few and far between. Those nights that metaphorically ‘fill our gas tank’ are rare unless we make them happen. Hence, the need to have a girls or guys weekend.

Keep it Simple

While it’s great to get out and ‘do’ things while you’re with friends, some of the best parts of a friend weekend is to keep it simple. Life is busy enough as it is so a getaway weekend may best be served by taking it easy next to a beach, swimming pool, or fireplace with a bottle of wine or a bowl of popcorn. If there is too much planned activity, there may not be room for the conversations and connection for which the weekend was designed.

Likewise, the goal is friendship and bond strengthening so it can be short and inexpensive – one night at a campground; or longer and deluxe – a long weekend in Cabo. It can be just one friend or a dozen as long as drama, personality differences, and complaints stay home.

Gender differences

Generally, men like to ‘do’ things and can find comradery in building a barn, hunting, skiing, or gaming. Indeed – plenty of gents splurge on annual outings for many of those reasons and for some, it’s the only real ‘friend’ time they get during the year as family responsibilities prevail. Women seem to be better at planning short and sweet visits together more often, saving the long and expensive trips to enjoy with their significant others.

No matter the style, budget, or program – fostering, building, and strengthening a sense of belonging is the ultimate goal when you make plans to …

Have a Girls/Guys Weekend

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#108 Ask for a Hug

Because a hug can generate that sense of belonging and compassion, it fosters calm. It allows us to feel protected – if even only for that moment.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#108

Ask for a hug

Connection is one of the most fundamental needs that a human being requires for survival. In fact, researchers in Chicago have postulated that not feeling connected to a ‘tribe’ may be more devastating to our life expectancy than smoking or obesity. There may be no better way to signify a connection than by hugging.

Often these days, we are racing around attempting to complete our own agenda and don’t take the time to stop and consider those around us. Consequently, we may fail to notice that people in our circle – our tribe – our family, are feeling disconnected from us. We may not feel comfortable speaking out when we are the ones feeling on the outskirts. And so it goes… we brush past one another, maybe with a smile but disengaged from a sense of belonging.

Take the Lead

It is during those times that it becomes imperative to ‘ask for a hug’. Whether you’re the one feeling disconnected or you are noticing that someone appears to be detached or unplugged from the group/family. Either we notice that we are in need or there is someone in our tribe that can tell we are deficient. Either way, the gesture of a hug will likely break the isolation and pull us into at least a temporary circle of comfort.

Benefits

Because a hug can generate that sense of belonging and compassion, it fosters calm. It allows us to feel protected – if even only for that moment. Consequently, our immune system may function better, our fear is reduced, and we may feel happier. More hugging may help with heart health, depression, anxiety, and overall life satisfaction.

That’s a lot of benefit just because we took the time to think about our needs and …

Ask for a hug.

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#116 Give Someone a Back Rub

The act of physically touching another person with compassion and gentleness can be physically (not sexual) pleasurable for you as well.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#116

Give someone a back rub

Remember that saying “it’s better to give than to receive”? While most people I know enjoy receiving a back rub, it’s also quite nice to earnestly give one.

Aside from foreplay

Back in the day – before ‘hookups’ were a truly a casual thing, this is the ‘intimate gesture’ that often served as a ‘hint’ that more touching might be welcomed – at least in my experience – although the initiation of sex is NOT what this suggestion is really about.

Intimacy

When we gently and slowly massage the bare skin of another human that we feel connected to, it can be a very intimate experience. This exercise is encouraged as a way to build physical intimacy with someone without the expectation or culmination of sexual activity (although if you are moved… by all means).

How To

When I make this suggestion in couples therapy, I will sometimes hear resistance by an individuals declaration that they have weak hands and I send them directly to the internet to learn how to give a back rub. It turns out that strong hands are not a requirement for a relaxing, stress reducing, or even a seductive back rub. They may be if you are seeking sore muscle treatment in which case, see a trained massage therapist. Indeed, a good back rub is more about the caress of the skin, slight pressure moving in a particular direction, and the intention of the touch. Most anyone can give a good back rub with a bit of practice.

Benefits

At first glance, one might think that the receiver is the only one who tends to benefit from a back rub but for the giver – there’s opportunity as well. Making a connection with someone you care about may be the most obvious. Making the time for your friend or partner let’s them know you put them first from time to time and that gesture reinforces the relationship you are also a part of. Initiating a selfless gesture of providing pleasure to someone you care for keeps you grounded and focused beyond only your needs, encouraging a Eudamonic sense of well-being. The act of physically touching another person with compassion and gentleness can be physically (not sexual) pleasurable for you as well. Indeed, there’s hardly a downside when you make the effort to …

Give someone a back rub.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#213 Snuggle

In that small allotted time, nothing else matters and we are able to feel centered in our space. For those few moments, the pressures of the world are quiet.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#213

Snuggle

Who doesn’t love to snuggle? From the time we are born, one of the ways that we experience connection and belonging is to get our body up close and connected to another person. Snuggling is NOT sex… it’s sharing personal space with another warm body – human or animal friend. It’s connecting – heartbeat to heartbeat – with another being to remind us that we are not alone in the world, that we are more than just ourselves. It’s part of what keeps us grounded and produces sensations of ‘existential significance’ – a feeling of having a purpose.

Snuggling comes with benefits

Spending as little as FIVE minutes a day cuddling with another being will stimulate an increase in the three primary emotional health hormones: Oxytocin, Dopamine, & Serotonin. Between the three of them, benefits include prevention of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and high blood pressure. They improve your immune system, lower your heart rate, and stimulate your metabolism. All together, they relax you and induce smiling.

Snuggle buddy

If you wake up next to someone each day – try to commit to 5 min either in the morning or the evening to cuddle together (without anticipation of sex) and no conversation. This is just time for the two of you to experience the life force of one another, to feel connected, and to be present with one another. If you sleep alone most of the time, then take 5 min a day to snuggle with a child (yours or someone in your care) or an animal friend. Cats and dogs are great snugglers (well… some cats.) and the living energy that exists in them can still mingle with yours for the existential benefit of realizing that you are not here alone.

Being present

In addition to all of the ‘connection’ elements associated with snuggling and their benefits, the ability for us to be still and present for 5 minutes a day has its own associated perks. In that small allotted time, nothing else matters and we are able to feel centered in our space. For those few moments, the pressures of the world are quiet. Breathe in the stillness and allow it to settle in your soul. Allow yourself to take the time to…

Snuggle.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#229 Chat with a random Stranger

The premise is simple and mostly likely etched in your memory somewhere because children do this naturally. (Another example of something innate that we ‘unlearn’.)

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#229

Chat with a Random Stranger

Disconnect

We live in a world that while connected via radio waves and fiber optic cables, is often disconnected from an interpersonal perspective. We walk around with cell phones and headphones, attending to email, social media, and news headlines rather than the space in which we stand. Most of us can find ourselves standing next to a stranger at some point during the day with barely a glance to recognize their presence there; the ghostly whisper of our mothers “don’t talk to strangers” mantra reverberating ever so slightly through our memory.

Connect

If we take time to bring ourselves into the present moment while we run our errands, grab our lunch, or wait for transportation, we can simultaneously take time to appreciate the people in our periphery. Why not go one step further and connect with one of the other human beings close by? A simple comment of “that color looks great on you” or “I love your haircut” may be just the thing that person needs to counterbalance a negative from earlier in the day. The few seconds you take to actually connect to someone benefits you too.

Thrive

Social connection is linked to happiness, personal thriving, and longevity. It seems that even the simple act of acknowledging that we are not isolated – even if we don’t know or aren’t friends with people – can improve our state of mind. If we look up and acknowledge others in our environment for even a brief interaction, our brains interpret connectivity. The truth is, we aren’t isolated anywhere but in our minds. At any given point, most of us can walk out our door, down the sidewalk and connect with a human being in some kind of way – IF we choose.

Lessons from Childhood

The premise is simple and mostly likely etched in your memory somewhere because children do this naturally. (Another example of something innate that we ‘unlearn’.) Children – completely unknown to one another – will engage on a playground within minutes of being there. In no time at all, they are introducing themselves and cooperating to extend their enjoyment.

Make a pledge to yourself to disarm those adult hesitations, break away from your distractions, and be present the next time you find yourself in a line, a group, or a crowd and make the effort to …

Talk to a random stranger.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Simon Shim on Unsplash

#295 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

If you are thinking about someone – phone them; say hello and let them know you’re thinking about them or leave a message.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#295

Phone a friend

This suggestion works nicely if you are playing a television game for a million dollars but it’s also important if you are interested in maintaining friendships. With our evolving habit of texting conversations – some of us have all but eliminated vocal interacting. Why not phone a friend?

Think of someone you haven’t spoken with in a while. What has prevented you from chatting? I occasionally hear that a friend hasn’t called because “I didn’t know if you were busy”. Frankly – that’s why voicemail was invented, wasn’t it? If I am busy, I will let the call go to message but I’ll know that you were thinking about me.

I’m miffed when someone says “I’ve been thinking about you forever…” but I have no way of knowing it because there’s been NO communication to that extent. If you are thinking about someone – phone them; say hello and let them know you’re thinking about them or leave a message. It’s simple really.

I realize that we all have busy lives and it takes time to maintain friendships. I find that most of us don’t need extended conversations and deep, meaningful interactions to sustain an existing friendship but we do need contact – real – live – connection. So, think of someone you haven’t heard from in a while and …

Phone a friend.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.