A recent trip up to see some family had opened my mind to something that I hadn’t thought about in this way before.
Staying with a close family member allows time for conversations to happen that wouldn’t normally happen when there are many other people around. We got to talking around how she had a number of friends that she has that she has known and been close with for over 50 years. This was something that washed over at the time that she said it but later on my mind got to thinking about the significance of this.
Community and the sense of connection to the people around us plays a major role in how well we age, both mentally and physically. One of the areas that many people on their deathbed report is that they had wished they had made more time for those in their lives that were important to them.
What does it take to foster a friendship that last over 5 decades?
Frequency: At some point, usually the beginning, there typically is a time when you will be around each other consistently. This will commonly be school, university or in a workplace setting. This sets the foundation for what is built in the future.
Shared interests: Having something that you can both look forward to doing together or having some glue that will help you to reconnect. This can be from a love of reading or gardening, or something that is more adrenaline pumping, either way having something you can share helps to hold things together.
Similar destination: If you are headed for different ‘stations’ in life then you will likely drift away from each other. If one of you is focused on adventure and travel while the other is all about settling down and having loads of kids. This just means that the challenge on staying together will be a little harder. In the same way that if you are a non-smoker/drinker then you will likely associate less in social settings.
With all of this in mind we often don’t think, gee this person is someone that I can see in my life. So, what are the type of things that you might like to cultivate when it comes to the people that you are sharing time with.
Transparency: When life struggle happens (and they will), is there an openness and willingness to share, not always with the hopes of having an answer provided but rather to have someone else to have a different perspective from. Often what will happen (more so with men!) is we tend to isolate ourselves away when struggle happens and then think that we have to be strong and figure it out ourselves. Being open allows for us to see a different perspective on our situation.
Making a priority of each other: We are all in a world that demand our attention so much of the time. Are we able to disconnect and be other people focused for a period of time to reconnect on what is really important? Your life won’t be measured by the number of social media stories you have but rather the number of real conversations you have.
Someone that will encourage your vision of a bigger/brighter future: A friend won’t let you settle for something that you are better than. They will stretch and challenge you in ways that you may not always like but always with the intention of building you towards a better you. When you have people in your life that demand the best from you automatically have more richness in the life you live.