Spending quality time with our loved ones is one of the most important things we can do in our lives, and all kinds of research on the subject of human well-being consistently find that close interpersonal relationships are a cornerstone in what everyone ultimately considers to be “a good life.”
For that reason, it is especially tragic when we find ourselves at a loss for ways to show the people closest to us that we really care.
Reaching out to your loved ones and letting them know how you feel doesn’t have to be an expensive or overly-dramatized thing. It can be a matter of a few basic attitudes and behaviors, played out in everyday life.
Here are just a few ways to show the people close to you that you care.
By giving them your attention, and listening to them
Easily one of the most powerful things you can do to let someone know you care, is to give them your full and undivided attention on a regular basis and to really listen to what they’re saying – rather than letting their words go in one ear and out the other.
These days, we are all more distracted than ever, and it’s not uncommon for most “conversations” to take place half-absently, interspersed by regular glances at a smartphone screen.
But think how snubbed you felt in those moments of your life where you’ve had a sense that someone was ignoring you, or not taking you seriously. Now, reflect on how good it feels when someone seems to genuinely be interested in what you have to say.
When you are with your loved ones, focus on what they are saying, and participate in honest and meaningful conversations.
By putting in the effort to forge potent shared experiences
The book, “The Power of Moments,” by Chip and Dan Heath, argues that although the everyday habits and experiences of our lives are certainly important – it’s often big stand-out “moments” that really define how we feel and think.
Interestingly, there’s a good deal of research out there that shows that we find things more memorable when they are “new,” when they involve an element of overcoming an obstacle, and when they break the routine of life.
A great way of showing your loved ones that you care — and making their lives and yours more interesting – is to put in the effort to forge potent shared experiences.
In practice, that might mean booking regular family days out, and vacation getaways with your pals.
By making small symbolic gestures when it counts
Flower delivery companies are always happy when Valentine’s Day rolls around, and there’s a reason why this seemingly small and straightforward ritual has such meaning in the lives of so many people.
That’s because we, as human beings, are largely influenced and motivated by symbolic gestures and actions – even if they aren’t very expensive or for that matter practical.
Find opportunities to make small symbolic gestures when it counts, such as by giving flowers to those close to you at the right occasions, sending personalized birthday and Christmas cards in the mail, and so on.
Don’t underestimate the power of these little rituals.