Last night at the last minute, my sister and I went home to my mom’s house to have dinner with some of our relatives who were visiting from far away. It wasn’t in my plans to go home, but when my mom texted to suggest it, I didn’t really hesitate. I had to leave in a rush, got a bit hot and flustered on the way, and didn’t get home until late, but the evening we had together was absolutely worth the drive.
A few years ago I read This is Where You Belong, a wonderful book that I own and still think about often. I read it when I was about to move ‘home’ to Toronto, a city I’d never lived in but one that was close to my family. I had spent 2+ years living abroad and while I loved aspects of the expat life, and was proud that I could work from anywhere, I really just wanted to be home. I wanted to live somewhere that I could literally just go home for dinner if I wanted to – so I rarely take it for granted that now, I can.
In the book, she cites this one Danish study that I’ve never forgotten:
“If a job seeker who lived next door to his sister was offered a position far away from home, he’d have to be paid an extra $12,475 a year to make the move worthwhile.
If a person goes from seeing friends or relatives less than once a month to seeing them most days, the resultant life satisfaction bump would be the equivalent of getting an £85,000 raise, about $130,000.”
Maybe this is not true for you, or maybe you have a difficult relationship with your family members. But whether or not you agree with these figures specifically, I think the message is clear that relationships, of any kind, are the biggest boost to our happiness, bar none.
I’ve been using a mantra lately: “Prioritize relationships.” I like how simple it is, and how broadly applicable. There are so many ways we can prioritize relationships, ways both big and small. Last night, I made the small sacrifice of adding a long drive each way to my night in exchange for hugs, puppy cuddles, bocce ball, decaf coffee, lovely accents, and beautiful memories. Prioritize relationships. They’re worth the drive.