Early Thanksgiving morning I went to a favorite place to sit outside and pray, meditate, and journal. My key take away?
I am very rich.
I am rich in family, friends, and connection to my roots and identity. When I read in USA Today that having a close buddy is like making an extra $100,000 a year I decided to write about the value of friends.
We need friends today more than ever.
My father grew up with 51 siblings or first cousins, most living within twenty miles of the family compound in central Kentucky. My mother had a tight circle of friends she called “The Big Five”–pals she kept from first grade through high school. Today with smaller families, the average child has only four cousins. Many people move from state to state. We drive long commutes, spend hours in front of a screen, or on conference calls in remote home-based work. As a result, Americans are lonely. A Duke University study found one-quarter of those surveyed did not have a single person they could confide in.
Friendship makes life better.
Ted Fishman wrote in USA TODAY that “kids who have close friends in school earn more as grown-ups.” Two Harvard psychiatrists say in their book that socially connected people live longer, respond better to stress, have more robust immune systems, and do better fighting a variety of illnesses.
Through my parents’ wide circle of friends, I enjoyed childhood trips to major league baseball games, vacations at a lake, sledding on snowy Indiana roads, big picnics or parties on holidays—outings taken not only with my parents but their friends and their friends’ children. On Facebook today five percent of my friends are children of my parents’ friends!
Is connecting online a good way to share with friends?
Maybe. I like keeping up with my friends through their Facebook posts and pictures. Yet deep friendship leads to more than texts or instant messages. As social beings, we crave the immediacy of a smiling face, the comfort of a live voice, the warmth of a hug, and the bond of shared experiences. On Thanksgiving morning, I realized I am rich because of my friends and family:
- Those who stood by me during my father’s illness
- Friends who point out good things about myself that I overlook
- People who help me laugh and get over myself
- Those who encourage my creative work
- Crazy ones up for any adventure…
✔️Yoga in the street at midnight
✔️Bicycling 50 miles in the rain
✔️Spending $$$ for a show at the Ryman
✔️Lunch at a glitzy tea shop
Don’t let your pace or problems crowd out your friendships
Last week I grieved the time, energy and resources wasted by a big conflict in a local group. This haiku is about wasted effort:
What We Miss
When consumed with wrongs
We talk, proclaim sin, record;
People cry alone.
Choose to be rich in friends this holiday season! Set aside your busyness, let go of your grudges, do something fun or crazy. Sit and talk with someone for an hour. Don’t sweat over your decorations or your Christmas tree, remembering:
The true decoration of a house is the friends who enter.
Next I’ll share the flip side of friendship in a video reading from Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door, The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us. Learn all about sociopaths just in time for the holidays! 😊 Make sure to catch it by subscribing with your email in the sign-up box.
The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the 21st Century by Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz, Beacon Press, 2009.
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