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The Secret Social Rhythms that Define You

Everyone’s a little different, but your social pace includes things like family time, hosting guests at your house, accepting invitations to others’ homes, hanging out with people in third-place settings (movie theaters, dinner, a show), church gatherings, school or organization functions and children’s activities.

So take a typical month (not December, because the holidays tend to make it irregular).

What is your mix of activities?

Maybe, for example, it’s: 20 nights at home watching TV or playing with kids, three to four days of Sunday church services, one school event attended, two nights out with friends, two nights hosting guests, one night at someone else’s house.

This has probably been your rhythm—give or take a little—since forever (or at least a long time).

If you’re like most people, you settled into your current social habits some time after high school or college, particularly after getting married or having children.

And you may have chosen this formula for socializing and friend-having under any number of influences. Maybe, for example, you cut back on the nights out when your children were infants or toddlers and then you never picked them back up. Maybe you withdrew from a lot of outside activities to stay within budget when times were tight. Or maybe you even inherited some social norms—you naturally fell into socializing at the level modeled in the home you grew up in.

Change It Up Already!

But because our social pace isn’t as urgent as a health condition or a paycheck, and investing in it isn’t as obvious as a 401(k) or a stack of bills, we can overlook an important question to ask of any life rhythm: Does it work for you?

Is your current mix of time alone and time with friends life-giving? Do you look forward to it? Does it add support or enrich your life, motivate you toward being the best version of you?

If the answer is no, what needs to be eliminated, reduced, increased or shifted? Do you need to do less obligatory social-engagements (like attending school meetings or social events you don’t really like)? Do you need to cut out some of the large-group social events and replace them with time spent talking on the phone, Skyping with or hanging out with the most loyal and encouraging people you have access to? What about opening your house more for something simple—movie nights or game nights? Or purposefully inviting another family to join you when you take in, say, the zoo or the circus or a morning at the playground?

What do you do alone that you might better do with others? And maybe, if you’re overloaded, what do you do with others that you might better do alone?

We’re not imprisoned within our social rhythm, but we rarely are intentional enough to purposefully make some changes; to see if a different mix might connect us to the world in more healthy ways.

What about it? How did you get into the social rhythm you’re in? And do you think a few changes might make your social habits serve you better?