Lean On Your Friends. And Let Them Lean On You.
Sometimes, in the middle of a spirited gathering of kindred folks, I take a pause from speaking, and scan faces. Happy faces, listening faces, poignant faces, faces weighed down by stress or worries, or simply bored faces. Whatever the mood, I love to capture it in my mind’s eye and relive it when I’m alone.
I revel in my friendships; learn from my friends; find joy in their company. And it gives me great joy to take stock of the deep bonds I have built over the years.
I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
Friends add meaning to our lives. Having friends by your side through the good times and bad keeps you grounded — and going. It is our friends we call first to share our biggest joys and sorrows, failings and accomplishments. I’ve had my ups and downs, and each of those experiences was worth cherishing because of the people who were by my side. They made the joys worth celebrating and became my pillars of strength in difficult times.
As a seeker and an advocate of wholistic wellbeing, I always encourage people to try different pathways to wellbeing — be it yoga, meditation, or lesser-known but equally cathartic techniques like dream yoga. However, often, quality time with my friends is the only therapy I need.
Nothing works better than sitting down with a friend and just being. Talking. Laughing. Reminiscing.
The Synergy of Friendships
Synergy in friendships is essential to our emotional and social wellbeing. Friends help us understand and appreciate life and its experiences, frivolous or deep. They help us balance our worldview and enrich our sense of being. Shared memories — a joyful life event, a difficult one, a milestone, similar struggles we live through, or even sharing a funny story about my dog chewing up my favorite slippers — add depth to long-established bonds. And while common stories may bring people together, it is the ability to appreciate the unique differences that help us build friendships for life.
We tend to relate most easily and closely with our peers. They’re the ones with whom we share the maximum life history and context — music, food, mindset, memories, etc. But breaking barriers and making friends of other ages add new dimensions to our life. A wiser, older friend might help us through a time of transition and can share their life’s learnings so we can steer clear of the mistakes they made. Younger friends energize us, help us keep up with the times, and stay young at heart. At the same time, they make us conscious of our own strength and resilience in what we have lived through.
Friends Make You More Alive
I admire people who know how to make a friend, express how much they value them, and embrace the possibility of a new friendship. Of course, everyone has different levels of extroversion and introversion, and approaches friendship differently. Some are naturally at ease connecting with people, while others are more guarded and take time to open and form new bonds. Whether we’re shy at first or ebullient from the get-go, we need to choose friends who accept us as we are.
Friendships spring in the most unusual places and when we least expect them; they can sometimes be unusual — like the much-loved tale of little Elliott and E.T. or Meg Wolitzer’s "The Interestings," which follows the six friends from youth till middle age, as their talents and fortunes diverge but friendships endure.
The synergy in our friendships is something to cherish and cultivate. Life’s been tough these past two years, isolating an already lonely humanity. And it’s not been good for our mental health. But we've learned to live with the pandemic and are going back to old ways of living in parts — returning to office, having people over, going out for lunches, celebrating birthdays, catching up for coffee on a bad day.
Always remember to check in on your friends. Nurture that synergy not just when you need it most, but when your friends need it, too.
We are each more alive with a friend.