As we grow more connected to the outside world, we also paradoxically distance ourselves from the “real” people right in front of us. Between Twitter, Facebook, email, and the ever-increasing prevalence of the computer in our lives, it’s becoming increasingly rare to have a face-to-face conversation about anything at all, let alone anything of real substantive value to ourselves and our loved ones.
I advocate a “back to basics” approach that cuts off the ongoing encroachment of technology and reminds us that we’re not cyborgs, but fully functioning human beings. Here are 8 ways to cultivate more love in life that will help you “ground” yourself and interact more completely with your life, instead of just reporting on it on social media.
1) Take a technology detox.
Yes. I mean.
Take a full day. That’s 24 hours. From the time you get up to the time you go to bed, no computer, cell phone, email, or “just popping on to check out what Miley Cyrus did today.” None. Zip. Zero. Nada. Instead of watching TV, radio (music’s still okay, but try to steer clear of the computer to get at it, hmm?), or playing on the computer, take a walk, call some friends, or do something‒ANYTHING!‒but avoid messing around with social media or anything that might somehow tempt you to do so. Post a sign if you have to, so all your friends will know that NO, you haven’t seen Charlene’s latest Facebook update about her breakup with her boyfriend. You can catch up tomorrow. Promise.
2) Read a good book.
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked “simple pleasures” we have. A Kindle’s great, a PDF will do in a pinch, but there is just no substitute for the feel and smell of wood pulp in your hands and actually, physically turning the pages of a book. Many people say that, although e-reading is great, there’s just something about being able to physically touch a book that gives a deeper connection to it. I don’t know how it works, since I’m a writer and not a psychologist, but I can tell you with absolute, 100% certainty that it does. Make today the day you rediscover an old favorite, or support your local independent bookstore and see about scoring some new ones!
3) Meditate on who you are.
It’s almost a cliche that although we can look back through Facebook and tell you what we ate for breakfast three years, two months, sixteen days and ten hours ago, we have no idea who we really are today. You can counter this tendency by taking a little time to quietly ponder who you are and who you’ve become. Do you like what you see? Are some changes in order? This is a great way to inject some love into your life, because if you don’t like who you are, now is the time to change it. Not on New Year’s Eve, not next week. If you really want to change, the time is now.
4) Remind yourself that you, and others, are worthy of love and attention.
If you feel like you’re being ignored a lot, ask yourself if you’re giving what you’d like to receive. If you are, then it’s time to seek out a new social circle, because the people you’re hanging out with are clearly too self-absorbed. If you’re not, then this is a good time to start giving out what you want to receive. You’ll be liked a lot more, and people will be more likely to pay attention to you when you need them as well.
5) Ask, “How was your day?”and LISTEN to the answer.
“How was your day?” is almost a pro forma question these days. We hear the answer, but don’t really listen because we just can’t wait to get on to the really important topic of OUR day. if you’re not willing to listen to the answer, don’t ask the question; conversely, if you’re going to ask, you owe it to yourself and the other person to listen. Otherwise you’re just wasting your breath asking, and they’re wasting their breath telling you. You can tell if this is happening in your life because when you ask, the other person is reluctant to say anything at all. The more love, attention, and respect you give, the more compassion you’ll receive.
This is such a simple thing, but too often it goes ignored. The act of touching conveys much more than simple physical contact. It is a sign that you care about someone enough to get in their space, and to allow them into yours as well. Human beings need touch in order to feel secure and comfortable; it is a social and spiritual act. This can be a friendly or amorous touch, familial or comradely, but everything from a high-five to sex with your lover shows that you care. If you feel lonely, isolated, or unloved, try touching someone you care about. You may be surprised where it leads.
7) Schedule a game night.
No, I don’t mean watching football, hockey, or soccer. I mean an old-fashioned table game. Whether you like to play dice, cards, Monopoly, or even beer pong, a game night is a good way to break up the routine and allow some real socialization with friends or family (Sorry, online versions don’t count here). This is an excellent way to reconnect with others and disconnect from the Internet for a night. You’ll be surprised at how much warmer and more cared-for you’ll feel at the end of the evening, too!
8) Watch the sunset.
There are just some things that cannot be simulated or duplicated. Why not take your lover out around sunset and watch the sun go down? Not only is it a great, intimate way to spend a little time, but it will also help you think about some of life’s bigger questions, like why the things we place such a premium on really don’t matter much in the end. This is a perfect time to tell your partner, “I love you and I’m so thankful that you’re in my life.” You’ll also feel more at peace, which is always a worthy outcome!