Importance of Conversation
When I was younger, my dad used to tell me that you have to keep yourself occupied. He was, and at the great age of 82, still is an incredibly active man. He rises early, takes Noah our dog for a walk, meets folks along the way for a chat, and then comes home to have his breakfast. Noah gets walked again in the afternoon. We have an acre of garden that he still maintains himself, and when his morning routine and garden chores are done, he heads off into town to meet people.
He doesn’t have any experience in behavioural science, but he understands something fundamental that researchers are spending much time on now; that isolation is not good for us, and that conversations and connections with others are fundamental to our wellbeing and mental health.
My dad is still the only person I have in my phone that I know without doubt will answer his phone if I call him, will be genuinely delighted to hear from me, and will have time for a chat regardless of what he is doing when I ring.
How many of those people do you have in your phone? I feel quite lucky even to have one.
People come first
He’s the only one that doesn’t think life, and work, and their various tasks and chores, are more important than people. People come first for dad, every single time.
That doesn’t make the rest of us selfish, but it does mean that we have a tendency to prioritise the things that have us busy over the people that make us happy.
I’ve been guilty of looking at my phone ringing, and instead of answering, I’ll let it go to voicemail and ring the person back at a time that suits me. Sometimes the person on the other end has been a very good friend, and yet I’m not willing for the interruption, or in the mood for the chat. Have you ever felt like that? I feel guilty every time, because, and I know this is cliched, but at the core so very true, there is nothing in this life more important than family and friends. And so why do we not always prioritise time with them?
Keeping out of your head
Dad rarely sits and dwells on the thoughts whizzing around in his head. And he’s happier for it. There are many factors at play as to why we now spend more and more time on our own. Technology has wooed us and sucked us in, and we are now to be found lost in a device, even when in a room with others. Also, flexible working practises mean that we are spending more and more time working remotely, in isolation, and as a self-employed person I can certainly vouch that I have spent whole days working alone and not had a decent conversation with anyone at all.
And so, alone, we get dragged into the whirlpool that is the thoughts in our head. It’s not really a healthy space to spend any length of time. The majority of thoughts rolling around up there are old ones that we go over and over. Pretty pointless right? We worry about stuff that hasn’t happened, and if you’re anything like me, can create elaborate scenarios for what will happen when that thing that hasn’t happened comes to pass and how terrible all that will be. What are we like? Which is why dad’s way makes so much more sense for a happier healthier approach to the wonderful activity of living.
Keep yourself occupied. That’s not running away from anything by the way; it just means not letting anything needlessly run away with you.
Be social and have daily conversations with people. Enjoy an immediate boost of positivity. Human beings are social creatures. We need to feel like we belong in order to feel safe and valued in our space in this world.
Life is a rich tapestry woven by our conversations and connections with others. Make it as colourful as possible.