All my life I have enjoyed the friendships I’ve shared with people traveling along my current path. There have been school friends, neighbor friends, friends of friends that turned out to be even closer friends etc. These people have shaped me in innumerable ways and co-created the person I am today.
I value the relationship that lasted a year and those that have lasted decades. Yet, I have never stopped to think about how these relationships have served to bring even more to my life than companionship, they have brought longevity and mental health.
Listening to Dan Buettner’s TED Talk on “How to Live to be 100” made me realize just how powerful it is to be part of a tribe. Your tribe is with you through the good and bad and listens to you even when you may not be at your best. They also provide a certain level of security in that you know they will be there for you if things get hopeless and you do the same for them. They also push you out of your comfort zone on adventures and provide new outlets to things you would have never tried without them. Moreover, they introduce you to new worlds. Although you may be extremely close and think similarly, they expose you to different ways of operating in the world, interpreting events and relating to situations that may have never occurred to you.
One of the reasons I’ve been drawn to becoming a life coach for years is that I truly enjoy lending a listening ear and helping friends interpret their situations in new ways to break through their own barriers. Now that I have the tools of the trade, it’s even more tempting to help friends and others through their mental impasses. That said I am learning the difference between when to simply be a friend and listen and when to offer coaching help.
Furthermore, truly understanding the value system and differences between you and your friends is critical. You may have many things in common that brought you together, yet what you are seeking from a fulfilling life may be very different. The key to healthy friendships is to not judge each other’s goals, but to support them in every way you can to align their energy and effort with what they really want our of life as well as celebrate the times when it all comes together beautifully for them.
With the onset of social media I believe it’s become easier to look at friendships with less depth, believing that we are caught up on people’s lives because we read their page. Likewise it’s easy to compare and contrast life fulfillment with a scroll of your cursor. Nonetheless, if you take the time to really invest in your relationships, listening to your friend, finding the common humanity and light as well as the eternal connection you have to all life, you find magic. We are all connected and when one of us is lifted through the power of friendship and kindness, we all reach greater heights.
This week reflect on your friendships and how you are engaging with them. Also, if you have time—listen to this TED talk to understand how important social bonds are to our health. Challenge yourself to be the best friend you can be and watch how the world around you changes.