“If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.”
― S.E. Hinton
In 1919, Hallmark created Friendship Day to encourage people to buy and send each other greeting cards. During World War II that market slowed to a standstill, until the holiday was no longer recognized.
But in 2011, Friendship Day was resurrected by the United Nations to foster the idea of friendship between nations, cultures and individuals in an effort to create peace.
Peace is an ambitious endeavor given these divisive, troubled times. Like any worthwhile endeavor, it takes effort and practice. And it begins at home.
How much time do you spend cultivating relationships with the people you love?
The benefits of social relationships are more powerful than you might imagine.
A 2010 study on Social Relationships and Mortality Risk from the University of Cambridge, England studied the extent to which social relationships impact mortality.
It found that social relationships influence health outcomes of adults as strongly as other mortality risk factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and obesity.
If you are one of the lucky one who count yourself blessed with one or more close friends, congratulations! Obviously, it’s not a free pass to smoke, drink to excess or be inactive, but it’s affirming to know that the time spent with friends sharing concerns, successes and the inevitable ups and downs of life helps us to stay healthy.
Facebook is an incredible place to connect, reconnect, share milestones or ask for prayers during dark times. That’s a good thing. But the connection of which I’m speaking takes place in real time, face-to-face – it cannot be replaced by Facebook posts or Tweets.
Consider making a regular date – weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – with a friend or a group of friends – and stick to it. If distance separates you, consider using one of the many video conferencing tools like Skype or FaceTime.
While it may seem formal or unnecessary to do so, consider setting some boundaries for how the time will be used. Whether you’re meeting with one person, or more, the following guidelines may be helpful:
- Agree on confidentiality.
- Each person has a “set” amount of time to talk. All should agree and adhere to the amount of time allotted.
- No interruptions until a person has finished, with comments being offered only if they’re open to feedback.
Sometimes the most healing space we can provide for friends is a container for being witnessed and heard. One of the great joys for me this past year has been reconnecting with a number of childhood friends. Even with my skills as a Wellness Coach, I’m constantly learning from them and humbled by their wisdom.
I invite you to try this for 4 scheduled meetings. Notice if it doesn’t increase general feelings of appreciation, well being, self-confidence and love. It may also sharpen your listening skills – a key ingredient in any successful relationship.