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Redefining Friendship

Redefining Friendship
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BY DEVON ELLINGTON

Friendship plays a vital role in maintaining health, especially as we age, according to (among others) the Mayo Clinic in 2011.  Having a strong support system outside of the family, and, most importantly, having people with whom we can laugh, reduces stress, improves a sense of community and self-worth.

Friendships are created through time and shared experience.  As we age, we realize our time is shorter; we are more careful how we spend it.  Yet putting the time into the creation and maintenance of friendship isn’t just about giving (at least, not in healthy relationships), but receiving.

To Maintain Friendships:

Email, Call, or, better yet, use old-fashioned Mail.  Remember how excited you got, as a child, a letter arrived from an overseas pen pal?  Or, even now, how good you feel when you receive a holiday card?  Pay that forward.  Jot a quick card to someone to whom you haven’t talked to in a long time.  Return that call you’ve been meaning to make when you “get around to it.”  Shoot an email off to a former classmate who found you on Facebook.

Forgive.  We all carry grudges from old wrongs.  Forgive someone you feel wronged you, even if you don’t speak to them about it directly.  That doesn’t mean you think it’s “okay”.  What you’re doing is giving yourself room to breathe and move beyond old wounds.

Make Time.  If someone’s in town unexpectedly for just a day or two and reaches out, make the time to connect, even if it’s not convenient.  Not everyone can fly in and out to suit your schedule.  Meet them halfway.  You’ll be glad you did!

To Create New Friendships:

Get out of the House.  Unless you want to be best friends with the postman or the meter reader, you’re going to need to get out of the house.  Take a walk, visit a museum, look at the listings section in your paper or online to find something unique to participate in.  And, when you’re out and about, smile and be pleasant.  Cordiality costs nothing.

Get Involved in activities that genuinely interest you.  You don’t have to attend an event in a bar if you’re on the wagon.  Go to yoga class on the beach or a nature walk.  What do YOU enjoy?  This is the time of your life to follow your heart.  Make time. It’ll be worth it.

Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in fiction & nonfiction.  She lives her writing and gardening dreams on Cape Cod.

 

 

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