The most central theme of the holiday season is connection. This is the time of year when we make the most effort to reconnect with family and friends to celebrate joy, wonder, and hope. It’s the perfect opportunity to invest in and strengthen these relationships.
The trouble is, we often get caught up in the whirlwind of expectation that surrounds holiday preparation. We put our focus on creating the perfect gathering to impress our friends, or the perfect gift to surprise someone—and don’t get me wrong, these things are wonderful, but not when they cause us to miss out on actually cultivating our relationships.
Nobody wants to be influenced by negative people. People obsessed with offense, complaining, and griping are just not fun to be around—not to mention the block this negativity puts on the flow of Wonder and creativity.
When we dwell in a negative mindset, surrounded by negative people, the things we create lose their power. After all, the purpose of creativity is to bring hope where there is hopelessness, and beauty where there are ashes. The purpose is to have a positive impact—but how can we create that in a world so enveloped in negativity?
Generous people make the greatest impact. It’s no secret, really; just a plain, simple fact. The more you give, the more lives you are able to touch. People who are characterized by an open hand are some of the most well-respected and successful people in society.
One of my goals this year has been to cultivate a more generous mindset. I want to give freely, no strings attached. Generosity is one of the most attractive and outstanding traits a person can develop.
When you hear the word “honor”, what comes to mind? Stories, perhaps: great heroes. The privilege given to people of status? Or maybe just a medieval idea that belongs with knights and creeds and princesses and all that.
The more I look around at our society today, the more I see what honor has become: a lost art. So many of our generation have so little regard for others outside of casual interactions, and this lack of respect—of honor—is blowing holes in our ability to form strong relationships, whether with our partners, friends, or family members.
Strong, lasting relationships are underrated in our society. It’s not uncommon to see young people who like the idea of dating more than they actually like being in a relationship. Why? Because relationships take work. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices—and that’s one aspect of love we don’t like to face.
We like things to be comfortable. Easy. Predictable. All of which relationships aren’t. The minute a challenge arises, or the other person does something to hurt your feelings and you realize they are imperfect, the solution our culture presents is to run away. And that solution works great—if you don’t want anything to last, ever.
Relationships are an investment: the more you put into them, the stronger and more valuable they become. This is why it’s important to invest consistently and purposefully. If you don’t, your connection will suffer.
Our generation’s mentality towards dating requires very little investment, and it’s no wonder we don’t value our relationships the way we should. Generosity isn’t a popular mindset, but perhaps it’s time we started cultivating it better. I want to challenge you to invest in three specific areas of your relationship.
Sam and I were long-distance for the first nine months of our relationship, and let me be the first to say, long-distance relationships are a struggle. It’s hard to go weeks or even months without seeing each other—especially if there’s no end in sight. Miles can wear on your relationship, so it’s important to be intentional about cultivating connection in spite of distance.
Despite the hardships of being separated physically, we learned a great deal from our period of distance—most notably, the importance of communication. To put it another way: when talking is all you have, you get really good at it. Couples who have learned to communicate well will be much more likely to develop strong, lasting relationships, so today I want to share a few tips to help you navigate what can be a bit of a rocky road.