There’s something brewing, and it’s happening around the world. I just learned that Denmark has a National Movement against Loneliness, the UK appointed a Minister for Loneliness, There’s an Australian Coalition to End Loneliness, and in a survey done in the US, 46% of people self-reported as lonely.
What’s up, and what can we do about it?
Can we agree that friendship is such an important part of life? Not only does it help us live longer, heal faster, and have more energy, we are social animals wired to connect.... yet, whether it’s due to technology, rising anxiety or overwhelm, people are feeling more disconnected than ever. Today, we’ll take a closer look at friendship, and how we can have more of it - the kind that matters.
Let’s start with Aristotle who described 3 types of friendship: When you understand the differences, you can see the beauty in each type of relationship and adjust your expectations accordingly:
1. Friendship of utility, where people benefit from being associated with one another – it could be coworkers, business partners; it could be classmates. It pays to get along and help one another. Maybe one mentors the other, or helps another through something. This is friendship "for a reason."
Sometimes, though you think they are your forever friend, there’s some friction and things change, they may enter in an all-consuming relationship and have no free time, circumstances change in their life and the dynamic is different. Maybe you get stronger and more expansive and it no longer is the same, maybe their values change – life happens. This is an opportunity to appreciate the time you had, focus on the good, and be open to what’s around the corner.
2. Friendship of pleasure: this brings/teaches joy and adds some aliveness to the people involved. It could be anything from a book club, to a passionate affair. It’s situational, and that’s OK. Maybe you move into a new city, and have to make new friends – some can be your movie friends, your dinner friends, your kids’ friends’ parents, your workout friends – it’s good to have a variety. And… when the situation changes, (people move, you get into a new sport, an attraction dies down) so does the relationship. You have generally expanded your world through these relationships, you found friends, and probably sincere ones, but it may be only "for a season."
3. Friendship of the good: (aka lifetime friends) These friendships are based on having similar values as your friend and a love and respect for who they are. You have their back and they yours –you want them to go for their dreams and be happy. The relationship with a lifetime friend evolves over time, and you can have your differences, but their underlying love for you is real. Sometimes those nearest to you are your best mirror – the toughest lessons are often through those who are closest. They can be a catalyst to help you come into your own.
So, in light of all this, what is a true friend?
Ways to Level UP:
1. Connect on a regular basis. Be authentic in what’s going on in your inner world too. The ones who resonate with this, are the ones you want to spend more time with. Nurture your relationships like you water a plant.
2. Technology is both an angel that facilitates connection and an addictive distraction that can keep you apart. Try no phones at the dinner table. When you’re with a friend, put your phone away – it’s s sign that you respect what she or he has to say.
3. Especially with social media, compare leads to despair. Don’t spend so much time finding the perfect shot that “shows” you are besties. Instead, be here now, and enjoy the whole sensory experience. Your real connection is with your friend, not your followers.
4. When you give, you receive. Volunteer for a few hours; it’s the perfect antidote to loneliness. You reconfirm to yourself that you matter.
5. Hug more, smile more – No friend can do this for you. At the core of it, YOU are bringing the JOY.
My mom, who is in a senior home is 86, and her best friend, Rosalee, is 93. Unless they are not feeling well, they visit with each other almost every day. Recently, Rosalee held my mom’s hand and told her, “You know, you are my very best friend.” My mom was so deeply happy and told her she felt the same way. I wish the same for you…
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