Here’s one of my most cherished family memories: my parents created a tradition of having at least one round-table meal every day, where every member of the family was obliged to be present. No matter what activities we had on the go, everyone was duty-bound to be home at a stipulated time – usually for dinner – so we could reconnect and share stories about our day.
My dad always emphasized the importance of learning something new and took this time to check our progress: he would go round the table and ask each of us to share any lessons, insights, or ideas we’d learnt during the day. Sometimes, he would bring a newspaper clipping or a book and engage us in a lively discussion. This special tradition brought our family closer, helped us share new ideas and insights, and gave me many treasured memories.
I learnt the importance of deliberate and meaningful conversations from those round-table discussions. Conversation is one of the most important parts of human connection, but people don’t talk as much any more. They rarely make time to listen and discuss. They go to the theatre or cinema, watch TV, work on their laptops, send text messages on their phones, and chat on social media, but they almost never talk.
You see, conversation is necessary in any human interaction. The power to talk and converse with people can open so many doors. We are all salespersons, regardless of our vocations, and we are all selling something every day: our image, our brand, our ideas, our products,our views, our beliefs, or our businesses. If you can talk, express yourself, and win people over through speech, you gain leverage in life. For this reason, mastering and appreciating the art of conversation is a key secret for us to thrive.
Not long ago, I had a grueling meltdown,that left me feeling quite overwhelmed. I walk regularly for my soul (and my body tags along) so I went out into the neighborhood to clear my head. Five kilometers down the road, I bumped into a long-lost friend and we walked together, reconnecting, telling stories, laughing uncontrollably, and reflecting about life. I slowly realized that my spirit was being lifted. We stopped an hour later and discovered – to our amazement – that we were on the other side of town. At that moment, I realized that the most fascinating encounters and conversations can happen anywhere and any time. We returned home, calm and centered, and we’ve been going on weekly walks to share and uplift each other ever since.
I’ll tell you what I learnt. If we are to revitalize, re-invent, and enrich our lives, we have to go back to that time where families valued physical connections more than virtual connections: gathering around the fire for dinner, sharing stories, insights, and ideas, laughing, learning new skills, and having a good time. A time when children valued bedtime stories more than online games. A time when spouses could devote ample time to each other-and physical conversations are given priority over virtual connections.
Many of us have grown so accustomed to the fast-paced life of this century that taking time to rest and reconnect seems impractical. Couples wish they could talk over supper as they used to, but there are always other things demanding their attention – more important things, perhaps – and the conversation always waits for a tomorrow that never comes.
We can decide to make time for social interaction and physical connection simply by reinventing the way we spend our days. It could be Sunday brunch with friends, a picnic with family, a barbecue with relatives, or a Saturday evening jog as a couple. Social gatherings always create opportunities to engage in small talk, good conversations, and chitchat.
I’ve gained a lot from such interactions with people, both intellectually and spiritually. I believe everyone has a story to tell. Through close connections with people, I’ve found ideas, closure, and inspiration that has lit up my life.
In the spirit of nurturing relationships and revitalizing our lives through connections, I recommend a monthly get-together for every family or group of friends with common interests. It can be a house party, a barbecue, a dinner, a family trip, a picnic or anything that brings people together. I know of families and friends where this sort of regular get-together has been a custom for years and it’s treasured for the jewel it is.
Our lives are revitalized, all by the simple act of communicating. Talking with people builds your health, happiness and longevity. Through communication, our family bonds are strengthened, ideas are shared, friendships are made and our spirits lifted.
Making time for meaningful conversations in your life may be your answer for a more vibrant, thriving and healthier lifestyle.