Making time to connect with family and friends is crucial to maintaining meaningful social connections. The hectic nature of life and the many tasks and duties to which we feel obliged on a daily or weekly basis can dwindle our time for friends to e-mails and an occasional coffee date. Friendships and social connections need more than the bare minimum to survive and be a meaningful part of our lives. So, how do you make time for family, work, and friends without sacrificing your sanity? Create social rituals that honor your friendships and continually connect and strengthen your bond.
Social rituals, a recurrent gathering of friends, are valuable additions to our lives. They remind us of the importance of relationships and provide a sense of stability and continuity in our lives. By setting a specific time to share each other’s company you help define, develop, and strengthen the relationship. Rituals can range from big gatherings to small intimate moments. Big or small, the most important characteristic is that they happen consistently.
By occurring consistently, rituals give us something to look forward to and give our lives a sense of meaning. Imagine going to the gym sporadically without any specific intention in sight. You may run, perform squats, or do push-ups occasionally, but at the end of six months, there will be little physical result. Like intermittently going to the gym, relationships that are not honored with time and energy become less important and less meaningful and ultimately cannot grow and develop.
Social rituals give us not only a social goal but also a routine and purpose to be involved. A powerful connector, shared experiences make us feel linked to those involved due to a collective energy of enthusiasm and excitement.
I am reminded of a single ritual that brought such joy and connection to a community that it evolved into a yearly social ritual that serves their community. Several years back, when a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, her coworkers organized the building of a quilt. Each coworker designed a quilt square with a powerful message of hope and healing. The gift, imbued with thoughtful kindness, literally covered my friend with love and supported her healing process. This single ritual so powerfully affected my friend that each year she gathers with her coworkers to create a quilt for someone in the community who may need encouragement or healing. This single act of compassion not only bonded the coworkers but also continues to make everyone involved feel like an active, valuable part of their community.
Craft your own ritual by thinking about what activities you love, along with what may help bring your friends together. Do your friends like to talk and theorize, play sports, visit museums? Try some of my suggestions or get creative on your own! No matter what you plan, cherish your newfound time with your friends!
- Celebrate the changing of seasons. Create a “kick-off” to fall, winter, spring or summer dinner, picnic, or BBQ! Invite friends and neighbors to make it a community experience. Make it a potluck: less prep and more food to share.
- Go berry/veggie picking at a local farm. What a healthy way to teach kids and grown-ups about flavors of the season, while still having a fun adventure!
- Create a yearly ritual. Once a year play a neighborhood/family game of “capture the flag,” or any game that is a shared favorite. An active outdoor activity is always a plus, for both your body and spirit!