The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sail.
--- William Arthur Ward
One morning I called my wife, who had been visiting her family in central Mexico with our two children for the previous two weeks, and she told our three-year-old son I would be coming the next day to join them.
In response, he picked up the phone and said, “No. Don’t come.”
It hurt my feelings for a while. A lot.
Then I had no choice but to let it go and to try to understand him. He had been the man of the house for two weeks and probably felt I was coming to supplant him and take away his mommy.
About an hour later, ironically while I was still writing this piece, she called me back and told me that Daniel was crying and wanted to talk to me. “I want you to come,” he told me through his tears.
The relationship I have with my son contains the same dynamic I experience in my friendships: ever-fluctuating social distance. Perhaps you experience this dynamic also in some of your important relationships.
This week, make a commitment to do two things: First, to appreciate your friends, family members or intimate partner when they demonstrate their wish to be close to you; second, to grant them the social distance they need when it is more than you desire.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how your understanding results in others wanting to be by your side more often.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.