Do you ever notice how certain days feel like they have a theme? If not, then maybe you should stop and look at your life a little more closely, because they are there. As you may have guessed by the title, the theme of today for me was friends.
I was watching an old episode of the wonderful show Boston Legal earlier today (side note: if you haven’t watched it, you definitely should) in which one of the characters says that we all put work before friendship. While the word ALL is a little off the mark, far too many of us do, despite good intentions to not do so.
I would also add that it is not always work that forces friendship to the backburner but includes life, kids, marriage, hobbies. It is easy to forget that people are the most important part of life because there is so much other great, and important, stuff out there.
The next thing that struck me related to friends was a video that I saw posted on Facebook. I am not reposting it here as the subject matter could easily be misconstrued and possibly offend some people, and I never want to do that. The short version though is that a comedian played a practical joke on a friend that played off of the stereotypes of the race of said friend. The caption of the video was that only truly good friends could get away with something like this.
After listening to the story the caption was very true. Were the same story to take place amongst people who were less friendly someone likely would be in jail for at least assault. Instead, there were great laughs had by the friends as well as the people around them who saw the humor and got involved.
Once I realized that I needed to express my gratitude for friends today, I finally took the time to do something I had been encouraged to do months ago, but just never did because I am full of excuses. Instead of writing this post, I first sent ten friends a message thanking them for being my friend and sharing some of the good memories we had together.
The list included an ex girlfriend, old coworkers, family members, and friends from high school. Some of these people I still communicate with semi regularly, but others I go years in between talking to. Yet each of them have provided value to my life that I appreciate and I wanted to clearly express that.
As I wrote each of those messages, it was an incredible walk down memory lane of the good times we had together. There were a few sad thoughts of struggles we had faced, but otherwise I spent the last two hours really just smiling and being happy.
I am not someone that has ever really had many close friends. High school was super hard for me socially, and it never really got better. Being an introvert I find it hard to connect with people unless I can find common ground quickly, like a love of airplanes. I know some of my friends laugh when I say I am shy because now that we are friends I never shut up, but it is the truth.
As I looked for a common theme amongst the friends I messaged, I think the one thing that struck me was an ability to feel at ease around them, with one amusing exception at least initially. They are all people that I grew to feel comfortable with. I didn’t need to sensor myself or hide how I was really feeling because we understood each other and that because of our differences we provided a more valuable relationship than if we simply agreed about everything.
I would venture to guess that almost none of us express enough gratitude to our friends for the value that they provide to our lives. The original challenge I was given months ago was to find 5-10 people every day that you can say thank you to for something they contributed to your life.
It may be a friend or it may be an artist that wrote a song or a book that changed your life or helped you to improve. It didn’t matter so much who it was as that you expressed your gratitude for that person and their contribution to your life. So rather than ask what you are grateful for, I instead have a challenge for you.
Today, right now, make a list of ten people you can thank for being your friend, and then do it. Don’t just send a note with only the words thank you, but take a minute to share a favorite memory, or express how they impacted your life for good. Many of them will have no idea how much of an impact they actually had on you, and I guarantee you will make their day.
The best part is, that you will again be enriched as you relive the great memories you had with those people. I would say you should then challenge them to do the same, but I think that cheapens the experience. You shouldn’t do this because I am challenging you, or because anyone else will challenge you, but because you genuinely care about, and appreciate, that person. If they choose to do the same then even better, but they need to do it because they feel a desire to do so, and not just because they were challenged.
Great friends are awesome, but we far too often neglect our friends expecting them to “still be on the bookshelf” when we want to pick them back up for another chapter of life. While many times this inevitably happens, I implore you to take the time to instead maintain a close connection and you will both be enriched by the experience.
This won’t be reality with everyone, as not everyone is a “bosom friend”, to steal Anne Shirley’s favorite term, but the places where we put forth the most effort will reap the most real benefits. That is why today I am grateful for good friends that bring meaning to our lives.
Now go tell your friends how much they matter to you.