When was the last time you danced with your significant other? This week? This year? The last wedding you attended?
Even though I’m not much of a dancer, my wife and I are midway through a year of slow dances, and it’s bringing us closer–three and a half heartfelt ballad–minutes at a time.
This experiment started after I read a study that said even just a 20-30 second hug could release oxytocin, improving your mood, happiness, and even your overall health. The research indicates that these extended hugs create biochemical and physiological reactions that reduce stress, lower the risk of heart disease, fight infections, and boost your immune system.
And if that’s not reason enough to give it a shot, they just feel great. I would call out, “30 second time!” as the signal it was time for our daily embrace.
The only problem? My wife wasn’t into it. “This is dumb,” she’d say. “Why are we just standing here?”
But it turned out to work in my favor. In the evenings, she was creating photo slideshows for her wedding photography clients, which often involved listening to the same romantic first dance songs over and over again to get the slide timings right.
Plus, if the couple’s chosen song wasn’t long enough, an additional track was required and that meant listening to more lovey-dovey songs for inspiration.
It wasn’t long before OUR wedding song (Whatever It Is by Zac Brown Band) came on the “Love Songs” Pandora station she was tuned into. This time she couldn’t say no, and we danced around the living room just like it was our first dance.
In Mini Habits, author Stephen Guise argues that to reach your goals, you have to start with an impossible-to-fail first step. If you want to get in better shape, do one pushup a day. If you want to learn more, read one page a day.
These habits are so ridiculously small they’re almost laughable, but often you’ll find them snowballing into bigger actions and results because the mental hurdle to get started is so low and un-intimidating.
Where my beautiful bride couldn’t get behind “30-second time,” her love of music, dance, and cheesy 90s R&B love ballads has her on board with this slow dance mini habit.
(Yes, there’s a steady stream of All-4-One, K-Ci & JoJo, and Boyz II Men going on over here.)
And where all I was after was a measly 30 seconds, now I’m getting 3-4 minute hugs. And, if all I have to do is shuffle my feet and turn in a circle, that’s a compromise I’m happy to make.
After a long day, our slow dances are becoming a keystone mini habit and reminder of our love. I can feel my body and mind calming down, breathing deeply and taking gratitude in all we have and the life we’ve built together.
There’s an element of “us against the world” too, like no matter what happens, I’ve got your back. It’s a powerful, grounding, and comforting feeling.
If it’s been too long since your last dance, give this a shot. Can you spare a few minutes tonight before bed?
Snap a picture and use the hashtag #ayearofslowdances to spread the love.
Photo: Flickr/ Collin Key