Sign in

A publication from Medium on personal development.


In Forge. More on Medium.

4 practical ways to make the ordinary feel extraordinary

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

It was time to say goodbye to the Formica table that had graced my kitchen in Chicago, in New York and in suburban Los Angeles. The thing had so many memories tied to it, though — irrationally long dinners with friends; a brunch date with my friend Jo and her octogenarian aunt; countless letters penned on it — that I hoped it’d go to someone really cool.

I got lucky. S— answered my ad. Later, she sent me a text of my table looking happy in a corner of her home, with a plant on it and everything. We started…

People are much more than how they earn a paycheck

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

One of my favorite icebreakers is to ask a stranger to tell me the worst thing they’ve ever done. Most of the time my conversation partner is taken aback, stumped, or left profoundly uncomfortable as they mine the archives of their life searching for a suitable answer. It’s not so much that I’m dying to know everyone’s worst sins but it’s a shocking enough conversation starter that very quickly morphs into meaningful discussion. Discussion that doesn’t involve what we do for work.

Without fail, nearly every time I meet a new person, the question, “So what do you do for…

Pummeling toward efficiency can come at the cost of a more connected, interesting life

Photo: Jessie Casson/Getty Images

Last week, I got a text that filled me with dread.

I’m in a pickle. Can you come help me put the door back on my dryer?

It was from a neighbor who I’m becoming friends with, but who I don’t know well. It was on a day when my kids were at camp and I was flying through work, errands and volunteer commitments at breakneck pace. It was hot out and I was already sweaty.

I considered saying no, thinking about every article I’ve read, and written, about good boundaries. …

It’s all about choice, intentionality, and frequency

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

During this Great Social Reset period, Americans are rediscovering what it means to be a social human. What are friends? What do I do with them? Do I have any left? While getting reacquainted with our social circles is undoubtedly going to be awkward — and exhaustingnew research shows that maintaining friendships is easier if hanging with friends becomes a part of our routine.

Jeffrey Hall, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, and his colleagues surveyed 127 adults about their social interactions over the course of a week in 2018. At five points during…

Maybe the best kinds friends are the ones you see a few times a year

Photo by Quinton Coetzee on Unsplash

My best friend visited me the other day for the first time in eight months. At my door, we squealed and hugged each other for two straight minutes in a Pfizer-aided joy. Then we proceeded to spend the whole day slowly catching up, with no pressure or performance, ricocheting off one another’s expansive realizations of the last year. It felt amazing — but also like we’d seen each other yesterday.

One of the weird benefits of our pandemic era has been an enforced investigation into what kinds of socialization we all need to thrive. For many, like me, it’s been…

🧶 Tip: To be a better listener, visualize a ball being passed back and forth.

In a conversation, listening isn’t the price you have to pay to finally be able to say your thing. As Don Johnson explains on Human Parts, it is “an active process that signals genuine interest in the other person.” If you have a tendency to be absorbed in your portion of the chat (and no judgement—we’re all guilty of this at times), try picturing a ball being passed and forth, a metaphor that Johnson shares. The other person speaks and then tosses the ball to…

A line from a novel helped settle my unease about once-close connections that have gone cold

Photo by Marta Esteban Fernando on Unsplash

Once upon a time, we were deeply ingrained in each other’s lives. We met up for dinners or movies or just to ride the rhythm of our good time, toasting to our own riff on “nature’s masterpiece,” as Emerson described friendship. We walked and wrote and called and felt like we were getting closer and closer. We went on road trips, chose conversation over sleep, got each other out of jams. We told each other “I love you,” and we meant it. We absorbed each other’s sadnesses and made them more bearable. We were there at pivotal moments. We coded…

Now is the time for making friends, not ditching them

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

Time for an obvious truth: The pandemic put friendships through the wringer. We were physically separated, forced to make the hard choices of who to include in our quarantine pods, and sometimes too exhausted to keep up the Zoom happy hours — leading some people (myself included) to wonder if they had any friends left at all.

Now that the worst of the crisis is hopefully behind us, many are reevaluating who they want to be, and who they want to surround themselves with, on the other side. …

👯 Tip: Move in unison with a friend or partner.

No, you don’t need to get in formation and perform a full drill team routine, but according to science, moving in unison with others helps strengthen ties. Several studies have found that people are “more cooperative and generous” and “feel more bonded to their movement partners” after they move in sync, Psyche reports. So if you’re looking for a simple way to connect with someone, try it out: You can dance along to a YouTube video, paint side by side, sway to a favorite album, or even just take a…

💬 Tip: When a friend is upset, try asking: “Do you want to talk about it or be distracted from it?”

If a person you love comes to you with a problem, you might think the only correct response is to drop what you’re doing, grab a chair, and ask them for every single detail so you can analyze every possible solution. But that might not be what your friend needs—or even wants. A better approach is to first see what they’re looking for. Reddit user Dykejoon suggests asking: “Do you want to talk about it or be distracted from…


A publication from Medium on personal development.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store