In part one of this series, mental health expert, Diana Terrones challenged agents to build relationships and success at work by being more mindful and present.
In part two, we head out of the office and into your homes, to see how being present can help you feel closer to your families and like you are giving them the attention and affection they need and deserve.
Whether you live on your own or with family or friends, the most important things happen when you connect with your loved ones.
Nobody lies on their deathbed wishing they had worked more. But many people regret they didn’t see their kids more, missed school plays, or they didn’t pay enough attention to their partner.
Here are three things you can do to practice being more present at home.
- Get your home life into perspective
Think about the effort you put into your work life. The hours you spend there, at work events and at home taking phone calls, checking emails and writing reports. You have processes in place to ensure customers are happy and that you are good at your job. You have KPIs and 360 reviews to measure your performance and keep striving for better. Yet the average tenure for a job is 3-5 years.
You would hope your relationship with your significant other or your children would last a lot longer than that. So why is your effort to ensure things work well at home and that your family is happy, so disproportionately low?
Do you check in with them regularly to see how well you are doing as a spouse or a parent? We tell ourselves that we are working hard for our loved ones, but if they barely see us, or just get us when we are tired and grouchy, what’s the point?
Reminding yourself regularly that you can always walk away from a job but you would like to have a relationship with your spouse and kids for the rest of your life, may help you prioritise what is important, rather than what is urgent, and remember to be more present at home.
- Communicate without distraction
A joke hit my inbox this week and it rang so true: “90% of being married is just shouting ‘what?’ from other rooms.”
The truth is, we often communicate with our family on the way in and out of rooms, shouting up the stairs or down corridors, or just across the room when the TV is on.
We complain the magic we once felt with our partner has gone. But what has actually gone is the feeling we are being listened to without distraction. That we are interesting to our partner or even our children.
But something magic happens when you come home and ask your partner face-to-face, how their day was. Not with the TV on, not while walking through the kitchen on the way somewhere else; just to be still in the same place they are and ask them about their day.
A friend of mine recalls the best gift he ever gave his wife on valentine’s day, according to her. He came home, ran a bath, put on soothing music and lit some candles and then he told her he ran the bath for her. She was delighted.
The real gift, however, was when he went in after a little while, sat on the toilet and asked her about her day. No distractions, no agenda, just 100% attention.
They had one of the longest conversations they had shared for a long time and she felt special to receive his full attention.
Try this at home, but don’t be weird about it. Find a moment when you can just give your partner your full attention.
- Invoke the power of ‘I Get To’
I was in a speaker session with Marcus Child (motivational speaker) and I heard a wonderful reframing of language that I use regularly to change my own view from negative to positive.
He told a story of a time when his wife was quite ill and he had to take on the job of running the household, taking the kids to school, caring for his wife and taking his mother to and from hospital at a time when his business was also at full throttle.
He spent days feeling sorry for himself and grumpy until one afternoon on the way back from school, his daughter told him about her day and he learned something new about her in that moment.
The next morning, he drove his mum to hospital and realised that he may not have her too much longer and he was suddenly grateful for the opportunity to be part of her day. He realised that instead of thinking ‘I’ve got to’ you can reframe this to ‘I get to’ and you start to cherish the moments that you get to be more involved in the lives of your loved ones.
It is a powerful tool to reframe your attitude. In the way that those who have come through illness or tragedy start to value every moment of their lives, we should all do the same. Don’t wait until adversity gives you a kick in the pants. Life is short, so squeeze joy out of every situation you can and live your life in the present.