Lean on Your Friends. And Let Them Lean on You
There’s no better therapy than sitting down with a friend — and just being
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. 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 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 — but naturally. 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 adds new dimensions to our life. A wiser, older friend might help us through a time of transition, sharing 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. We need to choose friends who accept us as we are, whether we’re shy at first or ebullient from the get-go.
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 hopefully, there’ll be a day soon when we can socialize in person — the old-fashioned way — without fear and anxiety. Have people over, go out for lunches, celebrate birthdays, catch up for coffee or beers on a bad day.
Until then, 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.