Remember this childhood song? “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”
I cannot get that tune out of my head ever since my daughter and I declared our resolutions for the new year. Among a million promises to ourselves (ones that will most likely go broken), one thing we both want to work on is enriching our friendships – both with current and past buds.
This may sound like a silly or strange resolution (especially for a nine-year-old girl) but it’s actually a healthy idea no matter your age. In fact, a professor at Stanford was quoted as saying that for females, “spending time with a trusted friend is just as vital to our general health as jogging or working out at the gym.” (I could live with that!!!) He also went on to say that “girlfriend time” actually stimulates our female brains to create serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps battle depression, reduce stress, adds years to our life, and just make us feel better overall.*
My daughter and I love being social, so this is a perfect New Years Resolution for both of us. But why did we resolve to do this now, and what are we actually going to do?
This whole idea came up over the holiday break. My brother and I threw a surprise anniversary party for my parents, and while it was a joyous occasion, it was also eye-opening to realize I haven’t seen or spoken with some of these people for more than 10, 20 and 30 years! How could something like that happen?
It made me stop and realize that life is a series of cycles that we circulate in and out of. First there is childhood – with friends and young cousins we see regularly (on holidays, weekends, summer breaks, every day at school) – and that continues pretty much through high school. Then you graduate and leave for college (inherit a new social circle). Then you graduate college and start a career (inherit a new social circle). Then you meet your spouse (inherit a new social circle), get married and have kids (inherit a new social circle), possibly get transferred to a new town (inherit a new social circle), your kids start preschool (inherit a new social circle), your kids start elementary school (inherit a new social circle), your kids start sports and other activities (inherit a new social circle), and so on, and so on, and so on. All the while your friends are going through similar cycles of their own which could spiral you further and further apart from one another.
And then WHAM! You look back and realize you haven’t connected with some of your best childhood buds for years and years.
For more than half my life, there was no internet or Facebook or email, nor did many people have cell phones. Not to mention, I’ve never been a good “phone talker.” So looking back, I can see how easy it was to lose touch some friends and family. But nowadays, there should be no excuse!
I tried to explain this to my daughter who was amazed that so many years had passed since I’d seen some of the people she met at the party. Or that I had friends I haven’t seen in more than 20 years. She found this hard to comprehend, but she admits she often thinks of her preschool friends who she hasn’t seen in a whole five years. Or how it seems like ages since she’s talked to the girls from her class just last year.
So together we decided we will make a better effort in 2014 (armed with our technological devices and other means to make it happen) to reach out and reconnect with our lost soul sisters.
At the same time, we resolve to enrich our relationships with those friends we see and talk to all the time, plus seek our new relationships. For my daughter, this is an easy task. For me, I’ll need to be creative. We all know it’s not always easy (as parents) to find time to be with friends as much as we’d like. It’s simpler to say we’re too busy or too tired or we feel guilty leaving our family. But if we make it a priority for our health, then how can you resist? I mean, how can you turn down the chance to have fun while ALSO adding years to your life and reducing stress?
What about you? Are you one who is good at staying in touch with friends from every stage of your life? Or have you resolved to reconnect with long lost pals? And what are some things you do to keep your friendships (new and old) strong and healthy?
*Total Health Magazine