“To love is to be vulnerable.”

—C. S. Lewis

Everyone wants to live a life full of purpose and meaning. But as a society, we’ve somehow ventured away from that which really produces a meaningful life: relationships. Simply take a look at the lives of those who have status and money but lack meaningful relationships.

What are beautiful possessions if you have no one to share them with? How often do we see celebrity become a burden to the quality of life of our most famous?

Mass appeal is in no way a substitute for meaningful relationships. In fact, it’s often a hindrance.

In the age of online relationships, where we see only what others want us to see, where our communication feeds are more of a vacuum of agreement or incendiary thinking than honest dialogue and true connection, to what degree do these online friendships really produce a higher quality of life?

In fact, a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine concluded that social media is both our greatest opportunity for social connection and our greatest source of loneliness.

We have a problem when it comes to intentionality in our relationships. Our world no longer seems to support or encourage the development and ongoing investment of those relationships in which we alone can find abundant life. When relational equity is measured in likes, reposts, followers, and digital friends, it’s clear we need to look for a different way of cultivating relationships.

As it is with much of our life, we have an opportunity to chart a new path. We have an opportunity to craft an intentionality to relationship that, in turn, sets aside that which is fake, that which is comparison-driven, that which has no hope of benefiting us or our world in pursuit of a greater opportunity.

This year at First15, we want to help you engage in life in a more intentional way. Relationships are at the crux of what makes life most meaningful.

Here are some thoughtful ways you can engage in your closest relationships more intentionally this year:
  1. Cultivate vulnerability.

    Even in our closest relationships, it can be hard to be vulnerable. But time spent with others by itself doesn’t promise depth in those relationships. It’s vulnerability that cultivates real trust and meaning. Seek to cultivate true vulnerability with others. Tell them what they mean to you—often. Share your frustrations. Be the one who is clear and kind. And open the door with your intentionality for them to do the same. 

  2. Learn love languages.

    Our time and money will go much further in cultivating meaningful relationships if we invest ourselves in ways others find most loving. Normally, we love others the way we prefer to be loved. But loving others in the way they prefer to receive love makes a far more significant impact on our depth in relationships.  

  3. Repurpose existing rhythms.

    Instead of watching television or working over a meal, use that time to cultivate real relationships at home and at work. Instead of listening to the radio in the car, give a friend a quick call just to see how they’re doing. Instead of scrolling through social media, ask your friends honest questions or tell them what they mean to you. Meaningful relationships don’t necessarily require more hours—just more intentionality. 


This is an excerpt from Craig Denison’s upcoming book, Living Intentionally: Finding Meaning with a Modern Rule of Life, which releases on March 1st. Pre-order your copy today!

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