How to Connect with People When Everyone's Simply "Too Busy"None By Sharon Salzberg
In our 5-part series, Sharon Salzberg, a world-renowned meditation teacher and author of the new book Real Love, answers your questions about how to truly connect with others.
Question: How can we connect with people these days, when so many folks don't want to talk on the phone, share a meal, or take time to really be there? Everyone just wants to text and keep conversation to a minimum, and I get really discouraged.
I understand this—I don’t usually want to talk on the phone either. Sometimes I crave a face-to-face moment with my friends, but everyone is rushing around so much, including me. And when we get together, we’re often checking our phones instead of looking at each other. I remember years ago, when friends and I would linger over a dinner for hours, ordering cups of tea until we nearly burst. Those occasions are not as frequent as I'd like—so I’ve started to suggest, when my friends and I agree to meet, that we take a walk.
People are a little startled at first that we are not getting coffee or a meal, a time that is limited by the moment the server gives us the check. If we’re just going to walk, there’s no end point. We could stop anywhere. You’re strolling along, chattering away, stopping here and there, maybe finding a place for a snack. The shops have interesting things in their windows, and you can pause to look. This returns some adventure to your time with your friend.
Part of what makes taking a walk with your friend special is that both of you are less connected to your phones. I think social media can be very hard on the tender spirit. One of the keys to happiness is not comparing yourself to others, but when you log on to social media, you don’t really see a picture of someone’s mediocre meal. Everyone looks glorious, laughing at a joke you’ll never hear, with charming friends. Seeing this often does not engender happiness that others are doing so well. These curated images may make you feel like your life is colorless, and leave you craving more. I have never felt that when I take a walk with a friend.
How do you pry your friends away from their devices? It helps to state that a major goal of yours is to spend time together. No real friend would say no to that. Making this time more meaningful may take some planning or goal setting. If you tell your friend that you want to get together once a month or once a year for a hike or a weekend away, that can become a good tradition in your relationship. Other helpful routines include book clubs or getting together to cook. Sharing an exercise class with a friend will also break you out of the old pattern. But as with breaking any old pattern, expect resistance at first!
Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher and NY Times bestselling author. She has played a crucial role in bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the West and into mainstream culture since 1974, when she first began teaching. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA and the author of ten books including NY Times bestseller, Real Happiness, her seminal work, Lovingkindness and her latest release by Flatiron Books, Real Love. For more information, visit SharonSalzberg.com.
You May Also Like: