When I was a young girl growing up, my parents taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with good friends who made good decisions. They would say "you are who you surround yourself with" and as I grew older, these words became abundantly clear to me that who I had as my friends were a reflection of who I am as a person. So, at a young age, I chose my friends wisely. I never cared about superficial attributes such as looks, money, success or status rather those who brought laughter, joy, honesty and who would be there for me should I need it - qualities of a true friend!
Recently, I watched a new series on Apple TV: The Me You Can't See produced by Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry. In this interesting topic of mental well being, therapy and friendship, Prince Harry said we all have "thorns" - something that has happened to us, our loved ones, family or friends that has shaped us and made us who we are. It is imperative that we have people there for us through the good times and bad.
In my young 58 years of life, like many of you, I have had "thorns" and challenges. My normal nature is to love and be loved and when challenges arose, there were instances that talking to someone and/or medicine helped me get through them. Physically, the above modalities were helpful to me and much needed, but it was the love and support of great girlfriends that ultimately was what my heart needed to get through some challenging times. I have some great girlfriends that are prayer warriors and through prayer and being there for each other, it makes a thorny situation a little more rosy.
11 Signs of a Genuine Friendship
They push us to be more accepting of ourselves
They call us out when we're in the wrong
They really listen
They support us through adversity
They keep our stress in check
They keep us humble
They have our backs, even when life gets tricky
They make the friendship a priority
They practice forgiveness
They make us want to be better people
Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well being as discussed in this article written by Mayoclinic.org . One of the main stressors modern humans face with corresponding effects on our biology and chemistry is loneliness. Let's face it, this past year has brought loneliness to many of us during this pandemic. Loneliness has been found to increase cortisol and inflammation - both of which hurt our health over the long term.
So, in this busy world of multi tasking, how do you be a friend like a friend you would want to have? Start by emulating the 11 signs of a genuine friendship that I mentioned above.
It was always easier to make friends when my kids were little as we had so much in common - raising our children. If you are new to an area and haven't met a great friend yet, here are some ways to make friends.
Be a friend. Invite a neighbor over for a meal, potluck dinner, coffee or a glass of wine. Entertaining is a fabulous way to spend time with people and to get to know them better. It can be hard to put yourself out there and risk being rejected; however, the payoff is well worth the risk.
Reconnect. You probably have friends from before you had kids that you have lost contact with or some when you were raising your children that you've lost touch with. Take the first step, by reaching out to them. Most people love to catch up with an old friend.
Say yes more often than no. You don't have to accept all invitations, but even if you are not sure you feel like going out, say yes. We all make plans and then think how nice it would be to stay home and relax. However, once you make the effort, it's usually worthwhile. If you can't make it, suggest an alternative date to get together.
Cultivate a hobby. I took up knitting and beekeeping and have made great friends through both hobbies.
Be a lifelong learner. Take a class and learn something that interests you: cooking, bible study, photography. Keep your mind engaged and meet people with similar interests.
Exercise/adult sports. Routine is an excellent way to meet people and consistency is a great way to keep them. Not to mention that exercise is just good for your body and mind. I met a lifelong friend by reaching out when we were going through similar tough situations and decided to walk together. It was great for the body and mind. Believe me, walking and talking with a friend is cheaper than any therapy. Participate on an adult team sport in your area.
Being a good friend is an important skill that all children as well need to learn. Treating others kindly, being honest, sticking together, etc. We all should look for these in a friend and more importantly we should teach our grandchildren to exhibit these traits in their friendships. Teachingchildrenwithbooks.com shares 24 books about friendship that your grandchildren will love. I'm planning to get a couple for Gigi's book library.
I've been so very blessed in my life to have such great lifelong friendships. All the ladies at Gigi Connection: Gigi Lori, Lala Malana, Mimi Jackie. & Nana Alison - we all started out being friends through our children and now some 30+ years later, we started a grandma blog together, we share pictures, pray for each other, drink wine together, share stories of our grandchildren and we enjoy laughing and being together!
Here's to great friendships!!