Dinners around the table have been a family value of ours since Josh and I got married. There is something so amazing about sitting down together, eating delicious food and stopping to look one another in the eye. I have a no device rule at the table which means we can either sit in silence or create conversation. My Enneagram 7 wing will always be a raving fan of connecting with the people you’re sharing life with so I try to begin with questions to kick us off. Year after year, meal after meal these special moments can begin to feel ordinary. Somewhere along the way of watching your children grow from toddlers to teenagers, dinners around the table can feel like just a chore.
Researchers call this hedonic adaptation. “We humans have a powerful propensity to adapt after continued and repeated exposure. Seeing the same thing, doing the same thing, or being with the same person again and again lowers its impact on our emotional experience. Put simply, we get used to things over time”. (Cassie Holmes, The Happier Hour)
Adaptation can be a powerful resource and learned skill that serves us during crises or times when hard adjustments need to be made, however, hedonic adaptation can cause us to miss out on the enjoyment of the beautiful moments right in front of us. We simply get used to dinner around the table and begin eating in silence scrolling on our phones. How can we move from this default mindset around normal, regular shared moments with our families to a mindset that helps us appreciate what’s right in front of us?
MIX IT UP. Last week, I introduced a fun box of conversation starters called Talking Points at a few of our family dinners. At first both my kids, and maybe Josh too, sighed and said, “bruh” but after a few rounds everyone started to warm up to the idea of stimulating questions that led to finding things out about each other we did not know or realize.
Our kiddos have on average 36 weeks of school so let’s say we average 3 family dinners per week where everyone is present. That’s 108 dinners and moments where you can connect, laugh and bond with your tribe.
Thank you Ralph Waldo Emerson for the reminder…“This time like all times is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it”.