My April Happiness Assignment

As I continue my year-long Happiness Project (w/Gretchen Rubin), the focus in April was friendship. Scientists today, along with the ancient philosophers of the past agree that close, long-lasting relationships are vital to our happiness.  So, we were tasked with determining how to deepen and/or broaden our friendships.

As I live an ocean away from my childhood home and the friends I grew up with, we often only communicate sporadically, struggling to stay in touch, then having bursts of contact before going dormant again. When Facebook first came on the scene, it felt like a godsend, allowing exposure to daily lives along with special events, and a place to catch up. At least we saw one another’s lives and it became easier to drop a line or comment on what was happening, as we could see what they shared. Now, everyone’s lives are so busy and Facebook feeds are so full, mostly of content that doesn’t connect us, that very little friendship is happening on-line. I still enjoy seeing friends photos, and sending birthday wishes, but being truly connected is hard work yet again!

My local friendships don’t fare much better… as my schedule consists of working a lot of nights and weekends, making me unavailable during suitable meet-up times, or splitting that time with my family, and neglecting one or the other. We are always making choices about our time, and there simply doesn’t seem to be enough of it.

A third issue is that with age, with changes in life-style and circumstances, the connection once felt with friends, doesn’t seem as strong. We have missed events, don’t have regular contact, and with a very social job, I am quite content with quiet time at home… My social battery gets depleted and my energy goes flat. I enjoy talking to my customers and feel I have grown real connection with people at Soul Space, and that seems to fill much of my friendship need, in addition to time with my extended family.

So the task of looking at friendship and its role in our lives seemed daunting, but also not that important to me. I have a loving family, and do feel I have friends I could call on if I needed them. Rubin asked questions like, do you prefer one-to-one or group friendships. Do you like to do an activity, or have a conversation more (with a friend)? How to do like to communicate best with friends? Do you have dormant friendships that you want to revive? Then you chose to EITHER focus on deepening existing connections, or broadening your group of friends.

I sort of did a bit of both. After reviewing the material and listening to the monthly discussion, I chose to SHOW UP– I sent a card to an old friend, had a lengthy written correspondence with another, and finally took an offer to visit a friend across the country for an overnight visit. I made a point to send a message to someone every week simply saying I thought of them, and why, as a way to stay connected and let people know I care. I met a pal for lunch, and helped another with a project… and as the month progresses, I realized how many friends I have, and how even those small, often brief connections helped us feel closer.

I honestly don’t know if I am good friend. I have always considered myself loyal and reliable, but have neither asked much of friendships or maybe given that much. As someone who became a mother quite young, and put my family first, friendship was a nice extra, but not a priority. Maybe now, as my children are grown, it is time to devote a bit more time to connecting with friends, enjoying activities and making memories together. It has been another month of reflecting on my life, my values and how I spend my time, but now is MAY and time to PLAY, so check back in to find out how I explore that topic.

If you haven’t read about the Happiness project, go back to former posts for more info and links.  Join me in finding more happiness in life!



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