One habit many of us do each year is set goals or make resolutions. By this point in the calendar, resolutions may have faded, or our goals may not be realized as we had hoped. One goal I had this year was to strengthen my relationships by being more purposeful in connecting in person with friends or family. This resolution has been a joy to keep since I get to spend time with people I care about most.
Sometimes, goals or resolutions aren’t fun or cause us joy. But this one has. 2019 brought a lot of change including being purposeful about how I would spend my time each day. One very deliberate goal was spending time cultivating my relationships. Having lost many loved ones over the last few years, I’ve learned time waits for no one. Every moment matters, so I wanted to make sure many of mine were spent wisely with those I love.
Studies show that people with strong social connections, whether friends or family, typically have better cognitive function as they age. The interaction of our semantic memory with others cannot be replicated by ourselves. The more we interact with others, the more we strengthen our overall memory. But there’s an even better reason to keep and maintain our relationships: to bring us joy.
Happiness burns hot and fast, but joy’s embers burn long. Relationships bring both happiness and joy with fun, caring, empathy and trust. We can be vulnerable with those we call our closest friends. We help each other, listen, and support. Deep relationships bring joy even in the worst of life’s moments.
This life was meant to be lived in community and this is true even for introverts. It’s not about the quantity of social connections we have, it really is about the quality.
Close and meaningful relationships can bring joy only if we maintain them. How can you connect and cultivate your relationships with friends and family this week? Try making a goal like I did or simply pick up the phone and call someone. Do it right now, you and your memory will always remember the joy it will bring.