April Values in Action Challenge
Caring: Pursue Meaningful Connections
American Values Investments is sponsoring a Values in Action challenge. The goal is to help Americans exercise their values for a brighter America. By preserving our values we can preserve our future.
Last quarter’s challenge to Build Community was enlightening and timely. As we face this pandemic, we are reminded even more of the need for strong communities and for citizens who support neighbors and meet immediate needs.
We are excited to share this quarter’s challenge, caring, as we look to identify ways to express care for others.
This month’s challenge: pursue meaningful connections with those around you.
Busyness is pervasive throughout our society. Yet, we are simultaneously spending ever increasing time with screens and electronic devices, especially our phones. Studies show that children are negatively impacted when parents are physically present yet disengaged and distracted because of smart phone use.
So, let’s put down our electronics, turn off our televisions, and be fully present with those around us.
Whether it be your spouse, parent, sibling, teenager, child, or friend, quiet your thoughts, remove distractions, and listen. Inquire about their thoughts, opinions, and desires.
Have you ever asked those close to you about their hopes, dreams or fears? What about having more family meals together and sharing what is going well in our lives, what we are struggling with, and what we long for?
Let’s not forget our co-workers or acquaintances. While your conversations may not involve the same degree of intimacy and vulnerability as those with family and close friends, there is still an opportunity to increase meaningful engagement.
And remember the strangers with whom you come in contact during the day. Look up from your phone, compliment someone, thank them, encourage them, perform a random act of kindness. Be the bright spot in someone’s day.
Tips for Increasing Meaningful Connection
Children and Grandchildren
- Take 10 minutes before you start dinner or mow the lawn to sit on the floor and have non-structured play with your children or grandchildren.
- Spend 10 minutes to read a book.
- Have a 5-minute impromptu dance party.
- Play shadow puppets before bedtime.
- While heading outside for your walk or yard work, stop a moment and throw a ball with the kids in the neighborhood.
If you have grandchildren who do not live near you, you can share these activities virtually.
- Hold up the pictures to the screen while reading a book and remember to use lots of inflection and eye contact.
- Turn on the clean tunes and have each of you share their best dance moves. This works even if you best moves can only be done from the safety of your chair!
- Sing a silly song with hand gestures.
Spend 10 minutes tossing a ball with your teen and ask them about their life. Or perhaps you can share parts of your life with them.
- You can keep it light.
Try talking about things that you found interesting or funny that day. Or perhaps you can share some funny or interesting memories that they may not have heard.
- Be authentic.
If appropriate, share some of your challenges or frustrations and how you are processing them.
- Invite them into the conversation.
Don’t talk so much that you are not listening. Allow times of silence. Give them the space to sort through their thoughts. Patiently wait until they have the confidence to share.
Before going to bed at night, stop by your teens room. Climb on the bed with some snacks and just relax for a few minutes. You don’t need to ask questions or have an agenda; just be there.
You can even reach out to adolescents that are not your own. Is there a young person in your life who needs someone to take notice of them? Is there a young person who needs someone to listen to them or care? Or is there just a young person in whom you would like to invest?
Text them and ask about what is happening in their life. If you know some specific things of which to inquire, you may get more detailed responses. On occasion, invite them to do something fun like going on a hike or to a sporting event. Let them bring their friends along if they desire.
Friends and Family
- Take 10 minutes to make a call. Perhaps you can even turn that call into a video chat.
- Send encouraging text messages. Ask for updates about events in their lives. Share something that is going on in your life.
- Purchase a box of blank cards and send quick notes of encouragement, or just let someone know that you have been thinking of them.
- Remember joyous and sorrowful events.
There is no need to purchase gifts or even cards. Simply congratulating pleasant occasions or expressing support during the painful anniversaries provides encouragement. It reminds others that they are not alone and that there are people who care about them and will walk alongside them in life. It also reminds you to move beyond self-focus and to grow in your love and compassion for others. If you have a poor memory, place reminders on your calendar.
- Offer to grab lunch with a co-worker that you don’t normally spend time with. Or look for that co-worker that seems to be a loner and invite them into your lunch circle.
- Acknowledge their birthdays or anniversaries. A card or gift is unnecessary. Just let them know that you remember and that you value them. Place these reminders on your calendar.
- Ask follow-up questions about their lives.
Did they move into a new home 6 months ago? Ask how things are going and how they are liking their new neighborhood. Do they have a new grandchild? Ask how the baby is growing, and how the parents are adjusting. Did they send a child off to college? Ask about their collegian’s experience. You can place reminders of these things in the notes area of their contact information in your email client or on your phone.
We can also engage in more meaningful connections with acquaintances such as those with whom we volunteer or people we cross paths with in other social settings.
Instead of making meaningless small talk while waiting for a meeting to begin, perhaps you can get to know them better. Ask them nonthreatening questions about themselves. Who knows, you might find some commonalities and a new friend.
Share Your Faith
Most importantly, pass your faith on to those around you. Share your faith in an organic way as you drive in the car, play games, prepare meals, repair the plumbing, as you live life. Share what God has taught you, what you have learned from good and painful times, and how you have seen God work in your life.
Take the Challenge
This month look for easy ways to take the challenge to be fully present and make meaningful connections with the people who are in your life or cross your path.
We would love to hear how things go. Please share your results with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take the 2020 Values in Action Challenge
As a patriotic American, are you up for the challenge? Will you be the change – and hope – agent that our nation needs? By putting your values in action in small ways, you can make a big difference. You will receive a monthly challenge in one of four areas: building community, caring, courage, and personal integrity.
Investors Advancing America’s Founding Values
Tell a Friend
Spread the word! Invite your friends to join the challenge and put their Values in Action.
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