By Leo Babauta
When was the last time you told your family and close personal friends that you loved them? Whatever your answer, do it today. Recently my grandfather was admitted to the hospital, just days after his 80th birthday, for heart problems. He’s had heart surgery in the past, and this time, just as in the past, he toughed it out. But any day could be his day, the day when it will be too late to tell him how much he’s meant to me over the years.
Don’t let that day come for your loved ones without telling them what they mean to you.
I know that for many of us, expressing those kinds of feelings isn’t easy. That’s true for me, but I’ve been trying to overcome those barriers. But even if that’s too difficult for you, I recommend that you just hang out with your family or treasured friends. Talk to them. Listen to them. Understand them.
Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. And if you go beyond that, and truly connect with them, through good conversation, that says even more. Many times its our actions, not just our words, that really speak what our hearts feel.
Taking the time to connect with those you love will bring you true happiness. The more you do it, the happier you’ll be.
Since I’m a notorious list-maker, and because many people are busy and might need help with this, here are some tips:
- Have five minutes? Send an email. It doesn’t take long to send an email to someone you care about, asking them how they are, wishing them a good day. And that little gesture could go a long way, especially if you follow it up over time with regular emails.
- Have 10 minutes? Call them up. A phone call is an easy way to connect with someone. It’s conversation, without the need for travel. What an invention! :)
- Have 30 minutes? You might not get the chance to do this every day, but at least once a week, take 30 minutes to drop in on someone you love (call first, so you don’t catch them in their underwear) and just visit. It’ll be some of the best 30 minutes you’ll spend this week.
- Have a couple hours? Have a good lunch or go somewhere with a loved one. Who among us doesn’t have a couple of free hours each month? Weekends, or evenings, there’s got to be a time that you spend in front of the TV or mindlessly surfing the internet. Take a chunk of that time, and devote it to a friend or family. (If you truly don’t have that time, see Edit Your Life, Part 1: Commitments.)
- Really focus on them. Don’t just spend time with someone but think about your work, or your blog, or the errands you have to run. Pay attention to that person. Listen. Really be there, in that moment, with that person. Because that’s a moment you’ll never get back, so spend it wisely.
- Have a blast. Tell jokes, crack each other up, do something fun and spontaneous. Really have a great time!