You Don’t Have to be a Therapist to be Therapeutic
I was recently watching an online video by author and entrepreneur, Gary Vee, that really impressed me. It was a short video; simple and to the point. While riding to and from appointments throughout the day, he simply filmed himself making three-minute phone calls to several of his fans just to reach out.
You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMltQ-sm1TU
Gary Vee making calls to fans from his car
This got me thinking. If someone as busy as Gary Vee takes the time to call his fans, why do some many of us neglect even calling our close friends?
Now, I get it. There’s a lot of reasons we don’t call our friends. Often I hear things like: “I don’t have time for a long conversation. I prefer to catch up in person. We don’t have to call each other- our friendship is strong even when we don’t talk for long periods of time.” Or, “Why should I call them when they can call me?”
And yes, many of these reasons have some of validity to them. Yet, according to Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones of Happiness” “Evidence and experience prove that your social network—and your level of engagement with it—contribute significantly to your happiness and long-term well-being.”
Still, as I read that statement today, I can’t help but think that even the term, “social network” no longer seems to imply social parties, family get togethers, or business “happy hours.” Rather, it far more often implies our online network of “friends.”
To be truthful, I have very mixed feelings with this new norm. Yet, as the reality of this sinks in with me, the question then becomes, “Why is this trend occurring? Why really is it that we are not investing more into our actual, real-life relationships?”
The answer to this question is multi-fold and largely beyond the scope of this post, (see the references listed at the end to learn more), however, perhaps the short answer is:
It takes effort!
It’s easy to be “busy.” It’s easy to peruse social media to “keep up” with one’s friends and their life events. It’s easy to consider your “house” your “home” and not leave it. It’s easy to stay in and watch Netflix.
The fact is, however, rates of depression, loneliness, and drug abuse are all on the rise. Mistrust, perhaps stemming from our egregiously skewed and negatively focused media, prevents many from reaching out to others. We live in a society in which floor space in our homes is consistently increasing as our number of close friends is consistently decreasing.
For many of us, we invest more time and effort in our home design than we do in the efforts of actually having people over to our homes to enjoy them. We have our own “private pools” while public pools are going out of business. Some of us don’t even answer phone calls, preferring to text as it’s “more convenient.”
I don’t doubt that all of this is “easier,” but is really making us any happier?
So much of the success of therapy stems from the feeling one gets from genuine human connect. The feeling of being heard, not being judged, feeling acceptance, and being forgiven for being human. But does one really need to be a licensed therapist to give this feeling to another? Cannot just being there for someone, being a friend and offering a listening ear, accomplish much the same effect?
Reaching out to others is a win-win. It just takes a little effort!
Don’t just text, but actually call a friend to check in. While you’re on the phone, plan an outing sometime to catch up in person. Perhaps invite your friend over sometime to watch a movie together. Who cares if Joanna Gaines didn’t personally design your home! If your friend is a true friend, he or she will be much happier for the time you spend together then judging you for the time you spent getting your home just perfect enough to impress them.
Two of my best friends and me bike riding along the Allegheny Valley Passage
In our heart of hearts, most of us recognize that having deep, meaningful relationships is key to one’s happiness. I say it’s time we start investing in these again! Let’s take a break from our bonds with technology and reconnect with one another. The time we put in will be worth the return in our increased happiness. Remember, you don’t have to be a therapist to be therapeutic, you just have to reach out. The positive feelings gained from this effort go both ways.
In the words of Gary Vee, “Putting in that 180 seconds, that three-minute phone call, is always ROI positive.”
For more reading on this subject, check out Johann Hari’s book, “Lost Connections.”