How Sharing a Meal Builds Connection
One of the things I love most about hosting guests in my home or in my bed and breakfast, Sydonia’s Place, is preparing a beautiful meal for my guests to share together. It’s a chance for them to relax and unwind in the comfort of my cozy, mountain getaway where they don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, grabbing groceries or driving home after a couple glasses of wine. It’s a complete experience, a true retreat from the daily stresses of life and a chance to reconnect after a busy work week or a stressful day.
There’s something so intimate about cooking for others, cooking together or sharing a meal. Ultimately, I think it’s all about connection, which is something the world could use a little more of these days. Life is hectic, the work week gets away from us, we dive deeper into our devices to de-stress rather than looking to those around us to find comfort.
No matter how you look at it, food IS connection. Of course it physically brings us together as we gather at the table to enjoy a delicious meal. But, perhaps more importantly, it has the power to connect us emotionally, which is why I think it’s so important to make time for shared meals as often as possible.
Shared Meals Are for Stories
One thing you’ll find at almost any shared meal is the sharing of stories. Smells and tastes are powerful reminders of some of our favorite memories. They remind us of Sunday supper at Memaw’s house, or of the first date we went on with the love of our lives, or the cookies we baked for Santa on Christmas Eve as children. No matter the meal, chances are everyone at your table will connect with it in a different way. And part of the fun is sharing those memories and telling the stories of our favorite moments with our loved ones. It is how we continue our legacies and carry on the legacies of those who are no longer with us. And the beauty of such an experience is that it becomes its own fond memory to be treasured and shared years down the road. It is a never-ending circle that allows us to not only stay connected to the past but to also connect with each other in the present.
Shared Meals Build Trust
There’s something funny that happens when we share a meal with others – we develop a deeper trust for each other. It’s not likely to be a noticeable change or something you could even put your finger on as it’s happening. But many experts in social science believe that breaking bread together – sharing the same food in particular – causes us to subconsciously trust each other more. Sharing food is an unspoken agreement that you and your guests are both willing to meet at the table, to eat the same meal and ultimately enjoy its nourishment together.
Think about how powerful that experience can be not just for families but also for friends, coworkers, even total strangers! If we can gather together to share a meal and build a deeper connection and trust through that meal, what great things might we all be able to accomplish together?
Shared Meals Make Us Happy
Simply put, a shared meal just makes us happier! And who couldn’t use a little more happiness these days? Experts believe that the more often people share meals together, the more they report feelings of satisfaction with their lives and overall happiness. And if food creates connection and trust, it only makes sense that we would feel happier the more we share meals together. Because what does anyone really crave in life? I’d imagine there aren’t many of us walking this earth that aren’t looking for connection. We need relationships, closeness and trust to feel secure and satisfied. But if we are too busy, too distracted, or too stressed, we’re likely to miss out on opportunities to connect in our daily lives. That’s where the shared meal becomes so important. It’s a chance for us to take a breath, to slow things down and be present with each other.
Yes, the reality is that we live in a hectic, busy, stressful world. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe we just need to get back in the kitchen with our loved ones and cook it out. Or, if cooking is just not your thing, though I firmly believe everyone can cook with a little help, maybe we can at least commit to gathering at the table to share a meal with loved ones more often. Even if it doesn’t solve all our problems, we’ll at least leave the table with a smile and a satisfied stomach!
What’s your favorite meal to share with your loved ones? Share with the community in the comments below!