We learn our most valuable lessons through experiencing life, and from surrounding ourselves with friends and family. Initially, the family you share a bloodline with is your guiding force. If you’re lucky, this family will give you the tools needed to become a valuable asset to the world around you. What you learn from your family sets the tone for how you live your life, but the families that adopt us in life can teach us valuable lessons. Sharing your highs as well as your lows is something I’ve learned is important for relationships.
My Savannah family taught me so much about myself, but they also shared their dearest family traditions with me. Some of those traditions are ones I’ve decided to continue myself. The most impactful idea I keep is “High/Low” at dinner with friends.
“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”– Elie Weisel
Our family dinners in Savannah took place on Sunday nights, after our long and busy weekends. It didn’t matter what time everyone eventually got off work. We started dinner when we all had the chance to get together, even if it was at midnight. We all took turns cooking meals and we all made sure to contribute.
These family dinners became the cornerstone of the week. They provided us with a chance to all spend quality time with each other, outside of work or the local bars. We were all able to connect on a deeper level. Sitting and talking at the dinner table was where we could all become fully vested in each other’s lives. The connections we were forming are the kinds of bonds that remain your whole life.
The close connections we make with people in our lives have been proven to extend our lifespan. In my article, You Can Do It — With a Little Help From Your Friends, I dive into some of the research proving longer, healthier lives are found by those who share deep connections with others. Something as simple as having dinner with friends every week has been shown to lead to a longer life.
What Is High/Low?
“High/Low” is where everyone around the dinner table lists their “highs” and “lows” of the day. The importance of the tradition is it allows everyone to share their favorite and worst parts of their day with the people who care about them. It makes the best parts of the day better and provides support from others to help you get through the tough parts.
I had never been introduced to the tradition and didn’t realize the power it had when I first learned about it. Many days, bad things happen. And most people keep it to themselves when they don’t have anyone to share it with. The negative impact of holding in these emotions can lead to unhappiness.
Take Power Away From the Bad
The real power of a bad day is crippled when you have the chance to talk about it aloud with people who care about you. The weight of the bad days become less heavy and hurtful. Even when it is through tears and feels like it’s going to break you, talking about the bad in your life, with a support system, lessens its power.
Therapists charge you enormous amounts for this same thing. Sharing some food, wine, and laughter with friends is how I prefer to work through my lows.
We Never Know What’s Going On With Others
The only way we know what things are affecting other people is if we ask or they tell us. You and the people you care about have to be intentional.
Our Savannah family, like any other family, had some hard times. We were lucky to have each other. Even if it were just the one night each week we got together, we could depend on each other for support during the hard times.
I’m thankful for the nights we spent cooking, drinking, laughing, and connecting through the highs and lows of our lives. We have all left Savannah now and are living our lives all over the US, but I still do High/Low whenever I have friends over for dinner.
Share All of Your Life
Sharing the ups in life is easy. We see it in every social media post. The best parts of our lives, we show to the entire world. It’s great to share your favorite parts of your life with others, but don’t forget there’s still bad happening. Find people to share thatwith. Don’t let it fester.
The ultimate day is one without a single low, but that’s not the standard. Live for those days, but also live for the days you can share your lows with people who care about you.
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A version of this post was previously published on GoFindYourHappy and is republished here with permission from the author.
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