To thrive in our complex modern lifestyles we need nutrition from a wide variety of fruit. That’s not rocket science. We all know this. (Check out the many juice-smoothies-for-health commercials if you need convincing!) But even those of us without every kitchen gadget known to man will reach for an orange or hot lemon drink for more vitamin C to stave off a cold, a banana for more potassium, or watermelon to re-hydrate. Each fruit offers a different vitamin complex and unique sweet pleasure for our palate.
So too do friends.
Our modern world is increasingly insular. Many people spend more time interfacing with computers than with other humans, but that’s a sure recipe for mental malaise if not disease. People are gregarious by nature. According to Joan Borysenko, author of Inner Peace for Busy Women, “touch and talk release the hormone oxytocin, which has a profoundly calming effect on your mind and body.” (eight-friends-every-woman-should-have)
I would argue that men need touch and talk too. Friends help us meet challenges with increased strength, insight and resilience, but like fruit, not all friends are the same. So what friends do we most need? I think that depends on our current emotional state.
Still searching for the elusive meaning of life?
Childhood friends connect us to our roots and reassure us about the full span of our life journey. Revisit your school yearbook or attend a class reunion to help you remember what you were like before the pressures of career and family turned your fresh fruitiness into a flat smoothie. Call someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Reminiscence is settling the past in its proper place, a founding stone to the person you have become.
Spiritual friends feed our deeper soul and help us find meaning beyond our temporal lives, whether it’s arguing existential philosophy, taking a yoga class together, or sharing a bible study.
Both of these types of friends help us to find personal balance and self acceptance.
Feeling stale? Stuck in a rut? Bored? Depressed?
New friends widen our social circle and challenge us to try new things and think new ways. Working out or taking up a new hobby with a friend inspires us to continue and adds a sense of responsibility/commitment when we might not endure alone.
Feeling old? Worthless? Afraid?
A younger friend gives you a chance to mentor and use your experience as well as reducing the fear factor of new technology. They keep you current. Volunteering lets you connect with other caring people while providing the warm and fuzzy feelings of helping.
Don’t let age and depression isolate you. You will only feel older and sadder alone. Don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back. Remember that even criticism can be care in its ugly suit. Listen to a wide variety of people, maybe learn, let them help you grow, then let the unhelpful seeds and cores go, but do keep your fruit bowl full, fresh and interesting, just don’t keep all your oranges in the one basket.