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STRONG RELATIONSHIPS TAKE TIME AND ATTENTION

A school career and guidance counselor once said to her students, “Getting a job is easy. Keeping it is a whole different ballgame.” That statement came to mind as I was reading an article in the “Work and Family Life” newsletter. The article was written by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and Sue George Hallowell, LICSW. They stated, “Never before has it been so easy to stay in touch with so many people electronically. But maintaining genuine human closeness has become more difficult.” Based on my own observations, I couldn’t agree more.

Being emotionally in-sync and “connected” to a person in a way that makes our relationship with that person close, alive, and thriving, requires attention. But with media technologies ever-present, our ability to pay attention without being interrupted is becoming increasingly rare, and distraction is more the rule than the exception.

“Multi-tasking” has been touted and revered by some for quite a long time. But that is starting to change. When our normal way is to not be focused, or not concentrate, or only partially pay attention, our brainwork suffers, as do our businesses, studies, and relationships. The authors of the article I was reading unapologetically stated that strong relationships require “uninterrupted time, undivided attention, and a commitment to forgo diversions.”

They continued by suggesting some very specific action steps for nurturing the relationships that matter most, such as with our spouse, children, parents, and friends:

Be brave and turn off the cellular and electronic devices! This frees us to discover how distraction and overload can subside. Learning when and how to restrict our use of electronic devices is very much like learning how to control our intake of food and/or alcohol.

Steer clear of the sinkhole of screentime, whether it be surfing the internet, playing computer games, watching TV, e-mailing, texting, or other activities that we know are unimportant and not urgent. (Thank you, Steven Covey, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”)

Choose carefully what people, ideas, projects, and activities you will obligate or commit yourself, your time, and your energy to.

Make face-to-face and voice-to-voice conversations your priority.

Exercise regularly and let your body produce and thrive on its own natural anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-stress, mind-focusing, and mood-enhancing substances.

Celebrate good things and good times together.

 

 

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