5 – Eat together or don’t eat at all.

About 3 years ago, I discovered a new time in the day; pre-7.30 am. Having a job where the earliest I’ll start is 10am meant lie-ins were the norm every day. This all changed when I started going for coffee with a group of 6 lads every Tuesday morning at 6.30am. I would (and still do) run up to Clifton Village and we would have a great time chilling, chatting and listening to each other every week. It is literally one of my favourite things to do each week and I am a much better man because of it. Discovering this time changed my whole life though. It taught me a new social hour. Teaching guitar often means I’m working late into the evening and being a massive extrovert, I missed out on social occasions so often that I wasn’t getting my ‘fix’. This led to me asking other people if they wanted to have breakfast/ coffee early on in the mornings also. Currently, I meet with a friend every other Monday morning, my Tuesday morning lads, a mate on a Wednesday morning and a mate on a Friday morning. I’m not gonna lie to you, when I meet with these people, my whole day is SO much better. Inspired by my friend James, this had me thinking… What if I met with someone or a group of people every meal time for a week. In other cultures it is such an important social event each day, why do I rush lunch on my own, at my desk or what ever? I wanted it to be a different person every time too (not just eat with Helen every meal and claim I completed the challenge). The only rule was that if I didn’t find someone to eat with, I didn’t eat that meal at all.

I met with loads of different mates, I had lunch with my mum and at the weekend I was hanging out with a big group of friends in Devon anyway so that was made easy.

Birthday weekend for Mr. Hinds. Thanks for organising @oliviaprisk #devon

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I’m not going to bore you with every meal, who I met with, what we ate and what we talked about; that’s not the point. The point is that I had an amazing week. It was tiring at times as I had to organise it around my weird schedule, but I genuinely felt really great each day (even though on 2 occasions I went hungry). I think connection with other people is vitally important for mental health and although it can be a bit vulnerable at times (as I get bored with shallow conversation very quickly), it opens up opportunity for deep friendships to be made and for a sense of feeling ‘known’ which is kind of what I think life is all about.

The challenge from last week was to eat my meals with different people rather than alone or go without. The reason being that in other cultures, meal times are a very important social event yet I eat on the move all the time. Although I went hungry twice, this challenge was really nice but not too difficult as I found one of the most social times of my life is 7.00 am anyway. As my job often goes on into the evening, I meet various people before work each week even before I started the challenge. If you find it hard to keep close to friends regularly, if possible, I do recommend making this hour a social time for you too. I wasn't a morning person before but they add so much to my life, I wouldn't dream of not getting up early nearly every day anymore.

A post shared by Sam Hardy (@sam.john.hardy) on


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