Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Importance of Gestures

Too often, we do not tell the people to whom we are close and those we love, the depths of what they really mean to us.

I believe this is a grave error.

There was once a fascinating study done by Bronnie Ware, a nurse in a hospital terminal care unit.  she decided to poll her patients in their final days to uncover any major life regrets, to see if there was any reoccurring theme in these regrets, and thus, to help other people learn from those whose lives were nearing their end.

#4 on the list of top 10 regrets among the dying: I wish I had said "I love you" a lot more to the people whom I love(d).

I have noticed that more often then not, we tend to hold back voicing the nature of our affections and depth of caring, to those we tend to feel for the most.  Why?  I would venture to guess a few reasons.  We let life get in the way.  We always resolve to tell someone "later on" or "in a better moment" or "when the time is right."

There is no better moment then now.  One never knows what tomorrow will bring, nor how much time we might have with these people, or what kind of twists and turns our life might take us on.  Now is the moment.

Secondly, I believe we tend to hold back out of fear of either vulnerability or rejection.  Its scary to put your heart on display.  To talk about your affections for someone.  One might worry about the recipients reaction (what if they reject me?  or think I am weird?), or one might worry about sounding stupid (have you ever thought someone who was giving you an amazing compliment was stupid?  I doubt it).

What is the worst that can happen?  The person smiles, says thank you, and maybe does not feel quite the same as you do.  Either way, you made their week.  And you will never have regrets about "aw, I wish I had told this person...________."  Because you told them.

To live a happier, more emotionally-enriched life, we should not only dare to speak about our affections much more often, but to also put in the small amount of effort not just to tell people but even more importantly, to show them how we feel.  Because, people will often forget the things you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.  Plus, words tend to become a bit weak and less powerful if we never see proof of their meaning within actions.

There are countless, thousands of gestures, ranging from small to huge.  Ranging from free-of-cost to costing-an-arm-and-a-leg.  With the aid of the internet, your own personal thoughts, and a little effort, you can come up with loads of ideas and gestures.  Ways you can really show those around you just how much they mean to you.

And I hear some of you now, "Ugh, I don't have the time for this.  I wish I did!"  First off, many gestures hardly take much time at all, and the reward you get within the other person for you minute bit of effort: well worth the effort.  But even more importantly, you do have the time.  We all make time every day for meaningless sh*t.  Watching hours of TV, or texting for an hour or two, or surfing the internet for a few hours.  All of that, time you could choose to direct to something more meaningful (a hobby that excites you, time with someone you love, searching for a new job-if you so desire, or...this.  Putting together things that express to those you care for just how much you love them).  And if you do this more often (dare to speak of and act on your affections), I promise the payoffs will be well worth your while.

There is an important rule of thumb regarding gestures though: a truly amazing gesture is personal.  It shows that you know your partner or friend very well.  The gesture should reflect their personality, or their likes, or a hobby they have, or one of their passions, in some way.
Giving a woman roses is nice (though slightly boring and cliche), but give her a bouquet of her favorite flowers, or flowers all in her favorite color, and what her really light up.
Taking someone our to eat and treating them is really generous and sweet.  But watch their jaw drop when you tell them, "hey, I know you love Mexican food (or insert other type of food in the blank), so I did my research.  This place serves supposedly the best guacamole and nachos in town."  Wow.  Way to take a gift from "nice" to "jaw dropping and truly memorable."  With just a little extra effort and thought about the person to whom you are giving the gift.

(Though I think one can also say this about not taking a good man for granted as well!!  Absolutely).

So, with all of that said, here is a small list of gestures that I personally compiled.  Many work for a romantic partner or a platonic friend, they can go both ways.  And there are a few that would be best kept in the romantic type of relationship.  Either way, I believe all of these are pretty wonderful in terms of expressing your affections and caring to someone who is important in your life.

  • Waking up 20 minutes before them and surprising them with breakfast in bed (with their favorite breakfast foods).
  • Just picking up a card at the store on your way home one evening and taking 5-10 minutes to write a few heartfelt and genuine sentences to your friend or romantic partner (maybe about what they mean to you, or a recent wonderful memory you created with them, or what you love about them specifically).
  • Treating someone you love to lunch or dinner at their favorite place
  • On their birthday, baking them their favorite kind of sweet yourself, from scratch (more personal and special then store-bought)
  • Taking 20 minutes to write someone close to you a letter about what they mean to you
  • Inviting them over to dinner, home cooked, by you.  And serving at least a couple of foods that you know for sure they love
  • Stopping at the bookstore and picking up a book you know they either: want or would love
  • Leaving your partner a note in the morning, telling them a surprise awaits them that evening.  Then have something planned for the evening.  Anything, from cooking them dinner, to offering to watch their favorite movie with them, to putting together a picnic with their favorite treats and taking them to the park, or taking hem out for ice cream...the list goes on.
  • Booking a trip for you and your partner/friend together.  (Whether just one night, or something longer in duration and more elaborate).  But the act of going away together, having a blast, sharing the experience, as well as the generous surprise, are all SUPER special.
  • Exercising together.  This makes you both feel great, boosts your moods, helps you feel more connected, attracted to one another and is lots of fun!
  • Surprising someone with a small gift, just randomly one day.  Maybe from their favorite store, something small you think they would like, or that reminded you of them.  Or their favorite kind of sweet.
  • Putting together a photo collage of your favorite memories of the two of you together.
  • Writing out your personal version of "our story."  This would be a breathtaking gift, a lifelong keepsake.  You could write, through your eyes, how you two met, your first impressions of them, how your friendship or relationship developed, favorite or significant moments with this person, challenges you surrounded together that brought you closer, etc.
  • Making something for them (such as, a drawing or painting, writing a poem or a song for them).
  • Throw them a surprise party!!!  They will never forget it.
  • Know just how they like their tea, or coffee
  • Have a cooking night together (maybe to make it more fun/special, focus on a specific theme....or type of food...etc)
  • Begin working towards a goal or on a project together (could be anything, like: planting and tending a garden together, planning a trip together, setting out to find the best pizza in town (or choose your favorite type of food together), writing a book together, etc).  This really bonds you to someone and adds a new dimension to your relationship, working on something like this together.
  • Create traditions together.  Such as: every Sunday is tea and cake day, or you always call one another to say goodnight, or every year of their birthday you bake them something special and give them a special note, or every Thursday is pizza and movie night, etc.  You get the point.  You can easily have traditions.  And traditions, within a friendship or romantic relationship, also bond you to someone, give you a sense of comfort with that person, and provide you with something to look forward to with them.
That is it for now for my own personal list.  Though of course, the internet is an incredible resource for this kind of thing.  You can find countless ideas on there, that apply to gestures for any kind of relationship (friends, family members to whom you are close, romantic partner, etc).

And, if you are interested, the thought-provoking study Top Regrets of the Dying.


  1. Dear daughter, your dad loves you and is really proud of you!

  2. Dear daughter, your dad loves you and is really proud of you!