I think we all know that having good relationships with friends and family is a huge happiness booster. If you are like me, then you can find yourself getting caught up in your own world – health issues, housework, work, hobbies, etc. – that you may neglect making time for the people in your life. For this first month of my happiness project, I decided to make an effort to think about my relationships with friends and family and to work on enhancing them.
I purposely choose cultivate relationships for September because I already had a vacation planned to visit my family in Ohio and also because it is my birthday month, so I would be seeing a lot of friends this month. I set myself up for success in my first happiness area because it is always good to tackle something easy when trying something new or starting a new project. The tasks I decided to work on this month to help enhance my relationships with my friends and family:
- remember birthdays
- stay in touch
- spend time with friends and family
- be present
- write thank you notes
A friend asked me last Friday if I was going to give an update on this month’s happiness project and so here is what I have done so far this month.
I love getting birthday cards in the mail. I figure everyone else does too and that this would be a simple way to let them know I was thinking of them. I spent some time looking for an app for my phone for me to input birthdays and other special events so that I would have a reminder to send cards. I know you can use the calendar on your phone but someone else’s calendar has been synced to mine and I have tried multiple different ways to unsync it and can’t. I also wanted an app that would send me a reminder a week or two before the event so that I could prepare the card to send. I thought I found an app I liked but it only reminds me the day of that it is someone’s birthday. I have a new app and I need to input birthdays and other events into it. If it works, then I will let you all know what it is. I also have them written down in the planner I am using to track my progress with the happiness project but I really need an alert on my phone to get me to remember. I also need to make sure I have an updated address for everyone on my list.
Stay in Touch
This task is harder and one that I have not done much with. I did find out which app one of my friend’s uses to communicate and set that up with her. I have been thinking about sending out a weekly email to some family or some friends about what is going on in my life. It was suggested on the podcast Happier and I like the idea. I am just not sure if anyone would respond. Maybe I should ask them. Other than that, I haven’t really done much in this area. I have about a week left and so I really should figure something out.
Spend Time with Friends and Family
This has been the easiest task so far because as I mentioned earlier, I already had a trip planned to Ohio for this month. Also, I had other events planned with friends that makes this an easier task to accomplish. I had a great trip to Ohio to see my family and friends. The whole purpose of this trip was to see my oldest nephew, who is a senior in high school, run his last home cross country meet. I got to see him run (I totally teared up too), spend time with my two younger nephews, see some friends and spend time with my mom and brother. It’s hard to fit everyone in and I really didn’t make a lot of plans to see people this trip. My oldest nephew will graduate next June and I already have plans to be in Ohio for two weeks so that I can see more people. I have also made it to all of my engagements that were planned this month. That might not sound like a huge feat to some of you, but I get migraines fairly frequently and sometimes have to cancel going to events. While I have had migraines this month (the reason this post is a day late), I have been fortunate enough to not have them when it counts.
Because I was spending so much time with my friends and family, I wanted to focus on them while I was with them and not get distracted by my phone. I am guilty of pulling out my phone to do something on it when I am in the company of other people. It’s rude and I need to stop doing it. I have challenged myself to not be on my phone when I am with other people. I give exceptions to needing to pull out the phone to look something up that came up in conversation or to show someone something. BUT, I have to put the phone down afterwards. I am tracking this and giving myself a sticker every time I am successful. I have to say that it is easier than I thought. I was at a book club on Monday night and I got my phone out to add a book to my “to read” list and I found myself going to another app. I stopped myself and put my phone down.
Send Thank You Cards
I am guilty of wanting to send thank you notes and never doing it. Then I feel guilty for not sending thank you cards. It is nice to get an acknowledgment of a gift you sent or something you did for someone. Since my birthday was this month, I received some really lovely gifts. I have written most of my notes and given them to people when I saw them or I have sent them. I haven’t completed all of the notes yet, but I am on track to do so soon.
That’s the update for how I am doing so far. Part of the happiness project is that while you focus on one are for a month, you still have to keep up these tasks the remaining months in hopes that they become habit. I think being present and staying off my phone will be a challenge when I am not focused on it like I am this month. Sending thank you notes and making time for friends will also be challenging. While I have been making good progress, the real test will be next month when I am focused on another area of my life if I can keep up with these tasks.
If anyone has an app suggestion for keeping track of birthdays/special events, let me know. Also, if you want a birthday card sent to you, let me know. I would also love to know how people stay in touch with their friends and family, especially if you live far away from one another.
Your fellow traveler,