Friendship Crisis

Friendship Crisis

I just spent some quality time with an old friend. While we were co-workers for years and check-in from time to time, time just slips away. We knew about each other’s family to some extent but had to be reminded and updated. But the quality time of breaking bread in our home, going out for another dinner and tooling around in circles on a small pontoon boat the past two days reminded me of some important lessons.

No matter how old you are, having and making and having friends is critical to feeling good. It’s good for overall health. Even when those friends are a bunch of clowns it is always good to reconnect. Have you ever thought that they think you are the clown in the bunch?

It seems that many of us are in a friendship crisis. This is not good when you see the stats. A study by the American Psychological Association found that lonely people are at risk of premature death. We are in a time when social media and workplace social cliques suggest we have hundreds or even thousands of friends. Are we cultivating those friendships by giving away our precious time to a friend or family member?

I have a ton of friends through social media channels. If I got a flat tire right now, today, how many would come to my rescue? I know, you are reading this and are raising your hand. You would be the one and for that I am thankful. But really, how many real friends do we have at this moment in life? Only about half of Americans surveyed said they have meaningful, face-to-face, daily interactions. And this included spending quality time with family and friends.

Loneliness is increasing in those above 50-years old. I fit in this crowd. All baby boomers are now over 50-years old. You may think, oh I get that. But loneliness is increasing in all major demographics and this includes the Gen Z crowd, those age 18-22. What gives? We are living in world where social media and social isolation are connected at the hip. Overworked and retired folks are facing a bunch of lonely and isolated days. And depression followed by an increase use of prescription drugs and otherwise is increasing.

So what’s the real prescription? Take some action. For some of us this may be a real battle. Get more rest. After that just get out and get moving. I have created something I call the Foundations of Fitness. This isn’t just for retired folks. In a gig economy we are all facing transitions in life like job change and moving that break friendships. The “at a glance” graphic I created is a simple way of understanding what I speak to groups about often; getting fit in key areas of life.

If you get in a funk or Facebook depression turn off all devices and take a digital fast. No phone, no remote control and no laptop. If you are feeling a bit lonely, don’t turn to the numbing power of porn, pills or shopping. Studies also show these quick fixes don’t work in a positive way.

Open your contact list and find a friend. Various studies show that more than half of all people in America eat meals alone and nearly a third of all people live alone. Reach out to somebody and reawaken that sleepy friendship.

Just like my visiting friend this week, take time to listen, laugh and be in the moment with each other. Yes, you can even get to know your boss or co-worker better too, what a concept. Listen to what they are sharing. Look them in the eye when they speak. And for God’s sake, turn your phone off, mute it or turn it over so constant interruptions are put out of sight. You and your friend will realize that you have shared more than a meal or the money it took to pay for it, you shared time. And time is so valuable waste it wisely. Finding, making and keeping real friends is worth the journey.