The Gift of Reaching Out
An “out of the blue” well-wishes text may be more welcomed than you expect!
Hello and happy holiday season!
For some, the holidays bring about mixed emotions. It’s a time meant for gathering together with friends and family - in love and support and gratitude… But, it can also be a tricky landscape to navigate. There are challenging family histories, never-ending quarrels, and old friends you may have lost touch with.
Although your attention may shift to family members during the holidays, they’re not the only ones you can connect with. There are more people in your life and ways to feel connected with others. You have friends, coworkers, neighbors and community members. Some of these people might even just be acquaintances. But don’t overlook those relationships. In fact, reaching out to them might be a more valuable gift than you realize!
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A study on reaching out to others was recently replicated by the organization Clearer Thinking. It concluded that old friends and acquaintances actually appreciate your outreach more than you would expect.
You might be thinking, well they’re just being nice and responding in kind.
In some cases, that might be true. But more often than not, they really truly feel delighted by this simple gesture.
Let’s put it this way: Imagine it was the reverse and they reached out to you. How would you feel? Probably pretty good. In fact, knowing that someone who you don’t often communicate with was thinking about you and took the time to send well-wishes is quite touching. For that moment, you feel less alone. You feel as though you matter in ways you didn’t expect. Even if momentarily, it still counts to your overall well-being.
And that’s the point! We need these little reminders to get us out of our usual perspective bubbles. Of course, nothing can replace the deep love, connection, and support we get from the closest people in our lives. But every positive emotional add-on is welcomed.Therefore, it’s important not to underestimate the benefits of these more distant connections. We are social creatures who just want to be seen and valued.
So, next time you’re unsure whether to reach out to someone you don’t talk to that often, go ahead and take your chances. The odds are in your favor! You’ll make someone else feel good, and it’ll probably make you feel pretty nice as well.
Next steps for Happier Beings
Find people to reach out to. If you don’t already have someone in mind that you’ve been debating on reaching out to, there are a few ways you can jog your memory. Go through your contacts list on your phone, peruse through old photo albums, or scroll around on social media. At some point, you’ll likely come across a name or face of someone who you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Compose the message. Whether you decide to call or text, plan to communicate a message that’s simple and friendly. You don’t need to apologize for not having spoken in a long time or give any explanation for why you’re reaching out in the first place. A simple “Hello, was thinking of you!”, “Hope you’re well” or “Happy holidays!” will suffice.
Remove any expectations about their response. As was revealed in the study, it’s highly likely you’ll get a nice response to your message. Maybe you’ll even strike up a renewed friendship that blossoms into something deeper. But the truth is, you never know what’s going on in their lives. In some cases, you might not get a response at all. Don’t take it personally, and definitely don’t regard it as a reason not to keep reaching out to others.
Content for Happier Beings
This artist conveys the importance of paying attention to strangers to combat how disconnected we’ve all become.
The people you choose to connect with don’t just have to be your age peers. In fact, there’s a real benefit to intergenerational relationships.
As the title of this newsletter implies, reaching out is a gift in and of itself. But since the holidays are coming, here’s a resource if you want to shop more mindfully this year.
As usual, please feel free to hit reply and share your thoughts. What would you like to see more of in these newsletters? What questions do you have about mental health and happiness?
And as always, I’m here for you.
Dr. Tal Leead, Psy.D.
“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
— Leo Tolstoy