Many, many moons ago, myself and three girlfriends decided that we’d quite like to learn how to play golf. We bought clubs, signed up for lessons and embarked on mastering our new sport. This involved meeting every second Saturday morning for 9 holes then having a beer or lunch afterwards. We even took ourselves off to the country for a “golf weekend”. We never turned pro, nor did we enjoy 18 holes (took too long), but we did have lots of laughs and had time to catch up on each other’s lives.
Fast forward about nine years. Between us we now have four teenage stepchildren, two children under six, a toddler, two businesses, one husband, a fiance AND two have moved interstate.
As a result our catch ups are now infrequent, take effort and a plane fare rather than the four of us enjoying golf games, long leisurely lunches and nights out.
I am not the only person who loves to connect with their friends – many clients tell me they wish to create more time and space in their lives to dedicate to their friendships.
Why are more people, especially as they get older, more appreciative of their friendships?
Here are my top reasons why our friends play such an important role in our lives.
1. They make us laugh..................and in my own personal situation laugh and laugh and laugh. We can be silly and make stupid jokes and they giggle along with us. Reminiscing with old friends about old times can bring the biggest laughs – even when those situations or events may not have been funny at the time. A friend can often help you see the lighter side.
2. They are our cheerleaders. There is nothing better than surrounding yourself with people who think you are the ANTS PANTS! The ones that tell you how smart and innovative and inspiring you are. These friends are so important when we are embarking on something new or something we do not feel very confident about. They lift us up and make us feel strong and successful.
3. They are honest without being cruel. I have one friend in particular I always try and take clothes shopping with me. She will always tell me if my "bum looks big in something".....or if it just doesn’t suit me. She shakes her head slightly and I take it off straight away. I trust her.
4. They are our support network. Breakups, losing members of your family, losing a job, not landing the promotion, kids driving you crazy. Whatever difficult situation life has delivered it takes friends about 5 minutes to turn up at the door with vino, chocolate, tissues, DVDs. They will cry and moan with you and always, always be on your side.
5. They combat any feelings of isolation. New mums and anyone who works from home will know exactly what I mean. Spending long periods of time in your home without anyone else (over the age of 5) can start to take its toll. Reaching out to old and new friends (mother’s groups, networking groups) can help combat feelings of isolation, boredom and loneliness.
6. They nurture our sense of belonging. Whether we have a family to take care of or live alone, connecting with friends creates social interaction and increases our sense of belonging in our wider community.
7. They give us another perspective. When you are absorbed and enveloped in your own life it is sometimes difficult to see things from another point of view. Had a tiff with your partner, mum or sibling? Have a chat to your friend about it. Not only will a true friend keep your confidences, they will often have an outsider’s perspective and may help you see the other side of the story.
8. They teach us life lessons and how to respect differences. When we make friends as young children it’s usually to play in the sandpit and have the occasional play date. Our friendships are pretty simple. When we make friends as teenagers, we begin to learn how to connect with and appreciate another person whilst accepting their flaws and differences. We learn valuable skills such as communication, negotiation and conflict resolution which we take with us into adulthood.
9. They love us unconditionally. True friends are the ones that love you even when you’re wrong or have made a mistake. They don’t mind you didn’t return their call for a week. They are not offended you didn’t send them a postcard from Peru. They are thrilled to receive your birthday gift, even if it’s two months late.
There is a saying that it takes a tribe to raise a child and I think this extends to our friends. You may not receive all the above from one person. You may have one friend who is the great listener, one the energetic partier and another who makes you laugh until your stomach hurts.
It doesn't matter if you have two friends or twenty. If they contribute to your world being a better place they are worth their weight in gold.
Can you hug a friend today?
Hi and thanks for reading! My name is Janelle Ryan and I am a Personal Coach who helps high performers create extraordinary lives.
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