Relationships Are The Greatest Luxury
I am like the rest of us. As I sit in my car while I wait on an appointment, or on my couch after a long day at work, or in my bed during the first few moments of the day, I’ll admit that I sometimes scroll through the seemingly luxurious lives of others that are displayed on my Instagram feed. I see the shiny, new BMWs, the sunny, ocean sprayed vacations to Veracruz, the glittering engagement rings, the chicly designed houses, the “snatched” bodies draped in perfectly tailored clothes and the gourmet plates of foods from around the world. This is luxury as defined by Instagram and other social media platforms, which have become some of the most influential forces in our lives.
But luxury is a very personal, relative thing.
When we shut out the ever present input of social media and come further into our authentic selves, we decide what constitutes ‘luxury’ based on our culture, our surroundings, and our experiences. Merriam-Webster defines luxury as “a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort : sumptuous environment”. The things that may provide comfort and ease for one person may be vexing to another.
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Objects typically start off making us happy, but as they get broken, costly, or out of style along the way, they begin to become less of a luxury and more of a burden. We take the once chic clothes to Goodwill, the older model BMW gets traded for the newest one, and as the settings on glittering rings become loose and lose their stones, they are tucked to the back of the nightstand drawer.
Yet our quality relationships with people who we love become more of a luxury every day. What we once took for granted as a child becomes the most valuable asset that we have when we reach the point of adulthood where we realize how complicated life can be and how alone we sometimes are through the journey.
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My mom tried to instill a habit of writing thank you notes and sending cards in me. I say tried because unfortunately, I haven’t put much effort into developing that habit over the years although I’ve always admired people who seem to always send a card at the perfect moments. I’ve had good intentions to send cards, and I’ve even bought the cards and stamps, but somehow I never get around to actually sending them, and I blame time, busyness, and all of the usual convenient scapegoats.
Every Christmas and anytime I received a gift from someone, my mom would make me write a list of everyone who sent me something so that I could follow up with a personalized thank you card to each person. I have to admit that as a kid, I didn’t understand what this ritual meant, and so I was usually annoyed by it. In my mind at that time, a verbal “thank you” should have been enough. Now that I am older, I realize that the habit of sending cards is not about extending an expected pleasantry to people who happen to give you something, but it is about nurturing and maintaining relationships that are much more valuable than the card and the gift will ever be. The real gifts were not the objects that friends and family sent to me, they were the thoughts of support and genuine intentions towards my happiness that those gifts symbolize.
Real gifts are thoughts of support and genuine intentions for your happiness from those that care about you.
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I promised myself that 2017 would be the year that I finally develop a card sending habit. I’ve been searching Pinterest for ideas about how to create some sort of organizer for greeting cards, taking a look in card sections for pretty stationary whenever I go shopping, and thinking about how I will gather and maintain what I hope will be a growing list of family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues.
Sending cards is a small gesture that can have a large impact on those that receive them, but it’s not the only thing we can do to treat our relationships like the luxuries that they are.
For some reason, romantic relationships seem to be viewed as the only type of relationship that needs regular maintenance to stay fresh. Women tend to be especially vulnerable to falling into the habit of pushing their friendship, family, and even professional relationships to the side to prioritize a romantic relationship, and that’s a habit that we should always resist. The types of things that keep romantic relationships vibrant and growing also work in other types of relationships with a little tweaking.
We like to go on dates with our boyfriends or husbands, but don’t forget girls’ night out, family nights, or special meals with a particular family member, friend or acquaintance.
We appreciate romantic surprises from our significant others, so likewise, thoughtful gifts or favors will have the same effect on family and friends.
We value intimate communication with our romantic partners because it deepens the connection, so sending birthday, holiday, special acknowledgment cards, calling just because, being transparent and honest with friends and family and letting them know that they can trust you as a confidant will deepen those connections in the same way.
Relationships are the greatest luxuries, and I’m going to do more to treat them that way this year and beyond. I hope you do too.
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