Reach out today

Reach Out Today and Live Longer Tomorrow

We all have that one friend.  You know the one.  The one who always sends us a birthday card and schedules “catch ups.”  The one who has kept the friendship alive even after you’ve moved away, graduated, or switched jobs.  You can thank that person for reaching out because they’re helping you live longer and more happily.

A friend I know from Singapore fits the bill for that person in my life.  She even remembers my kids’ birthdays.  I believe it’s her superpower.  At first, I felt guilty that I was never quite as on top of things as her.  (I tend to feel guilty about everything.  Yes, I’m working on that.)  But I’ve learned to respect and appreciate her efforts.  She makes me want to do better too.

The Key to Our Health

Reaching out to create a connection is a mutually beneficial act of kindness.  Social connectivity is key to our mental and physical health, especially in today’s world.  According to the World Health Organization, “Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly being recognised as a priority public health problem.”

Still not convinced?  Julianne Holt-Lundstadt, PhD, a professor at Brigham Young University, co-authored a meta-analysis that reported, “a lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having alcohol use disorder” and “loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.”

Do Better

Do you always find yourself coming up short of something: time, energy, creativity, money?  How can we do better at reaching out to our loved ones?  Here are some tips to help you start creating more connection in your life today.

Identify with whom you want to connect.

We can’t be everything to everyone.  I think it’s important to consider your priorities.  Are you spending time on relationships that aren’t that important to you just because it’s easy?  How can you make sure you’re connecting with the people who mean the most to you?

When I was designing the framework for creating a habit of kindness in my life, I thought carefully about the “Whos” of my pursuit.  I’m a list maker, an organizer, and you can find out about the process I used here.  But not everyone is like me.  Spend some time figuring out a way to identify the priority people in your own life in a way that suits you.

Make connecting joyful.

If you want to build a habit, it’s essential to make it enjoyable and sustainable.  Do you like to chat on the phone or make make a wonderful latte?  Do you have beautiful penmanship?  Consider your skills, talents, and preferences.  What is a fun way to connect with the people you love?

Remove stumbling blocks.

Consider why you haven’t connected with someone.  Did you buy that birthday card but didn’t have a stamp?  Or considered calling your friend but also needed to get in a workout?  Sometimes it’s the little things that get in the way. 

Try to head off problems by understanding what they are.  If you know you’re always short of stamps, buy 50 forever stamps next time you’re at the Post Office.  Need to get in your workout too, then book a “walk and talk” with your friend.  Throw on your headphones and multi-task: powerwalk or jog and chat at the same time.

Get organized.  Or not.

For me, organizing myself was the key to connecting more often.  I updated my calendar with people’s birthdays and set reminders to make sure I won’t forget important dates.  I also spend about 10 minutes at the beginning of the week to make a connection plan for the upcoming days.  That way, I’ll remember to pick up that birthday card and mail it in time. 

But that’s just what works for me.  Find out what works for you.  For some people, being organized feels calculated.  Maybe you prefer to be inspired in the moment.  Then, when you think of that person – call them or shoot them a text to tell them.  When you see a gift that you know would be perfect – buy it!  You can surprise them right away or save it for the holidays.

Just find the way that helps you connect more often.

It’s Never Too Late

I know, it happens.  It’s been way too long, and you’re embarrassed you haven’t been in touch.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.  Just reach out.  It’s never too late to start.   

What do you find is a good way to connect with your loved ones?


  • Georgina Webster says:

    Patricia. Great post! I love staying in touch with those that have touched my life over the years. The “just because” cards are the best – I get so much pleasure out of sending them (and receiving them). Your last paragraph – is so true – that long lost friend will LOVE hearing from you no matter how long it has been. Thank you!! and keep up the inspiring writing xx

  • Niki Cholet says:

    I struggle with this. There many people I want to keep in touch with, but I find I am not great with the execution. I need to make it more of a priority. Thank you for the reminder of how important it is!

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