The title of today's blog is also the title of a mid-80's song by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight. It's always been a favorite and seemed quite appropriate for today.
Last week when it was below freezing around here and too cold to do much besides curl up on the sofa with a heating pad and a thick blanket, I turned on the TV during the morning, something I rarely do. The editor of Prevention magazine was on the Today show and did a feature on "The 6 Friends a Woman Should Have." My interest was piqued and I kept listening. Thank goodness for the DVR, because it let me record and take notes so I could share with you.
Friendships in general have been shown to be beneficial. They lead to better health and a longer life. An Australian study revealed that those with the strongest social ties had the lowest risk of obesity, depression and heart disease. Friends are more important than family, though family isn't unimportant. Contact with family, especially for senior citizens, helps them avoid disabilities and improves longevity.
It's not about having a thousand friends on Facebook though or having a packed social calendar. It's all about the type of relationships you have, and here's a rundown of that Today show feature:
1. A childhood friend -- A friend from your childhood knows the real you -- the essential you. This kind of friend is very centering. As the Today show host said, "No one knows you like those who knew you then." Today's mobile society has left many women living far away from their childhood home, but social networking sites like Facebook can help you reconnect with your neighborhood pals. Or you can do it the old-fashioned way and write or telephone.
2. A new friend -- A new friend opens you to new experiences. They have no pre-conceived notions about you and will often challenge you and give you new perspectives on life. The thing about a new friend is that he or she doesn't stay new for long, so you need to be constantly making new friends to keep yourself out of a rut.
3. A work-out friend -- We all know that regular exercise is good for us, and doing it with a friend makes you accountable.
4. A spiritual friend -- A six-year study at Duke University showed that people who pray or meditate in some way were 50% less likely to die over the course of the study. They expanded that conclusion to say that prayer or meditation can improve your lifespan period. The emotional life you get most likely manifests itself physically as well. Being involved with others in a spiritual way, either through a church, a yoga group, a meditation class, et cetera, offers you resiliency and a connection unlike any other.
5. A younger friend -- Feeling needed is essential to happiness, and many women get that feeling through nurturing or mothering. But when your children are grown and you're no longer needed as a mom, having younger friends can fulfill that need to nurture and keep you current.
6. A partner's friend -- Family and social life intertwine to make a happier marriage.
So I took the list and tallied up the kinds of friends I have and I was able to check off 4 of the 6.
I've recently touched base again with a woman who lived down the street from me when I was growing up. Like me, her children are grown and she's a grandmother. We've just begun reconnecting, but it's been fun to see where the years have led us.
Back in the fall, I attended a divorce/grief recovery group and aside from the great help I received with regard to my emotional well-being, I came out of the experience with five new friends. We get together fairly regularly and try not to talk divorce all the time. We've been out to eat, watched the Christmas tree lighting at the mall, attended a Christmas service at the University of the South and had a slumber party afterward and helped each other move and set up new abodes. I've only known these women since September, but I now count them as dear friends.
Work-out friends. Uhm... let's skip that one. My list of goals for 2010 contained a resolve to get more exercise so let's hope a new friend comes along with it.
I joined a new church a few weeks before Christmas. I'd wandered away from church over the past years and decided to reconnect with the denomination I was raised in. It's a small congregation but a friendly and welcoming one. There isn't any one individual I've connected with (yet) but I've felt a definite connection with the congregation as a whole. I enjoy the minister's sermons and frequently find myself taking notes so I'll remember something he said. The choir is small but talented and the organist is just fabulous. She plays lots of complicated Bach fugues and I'm in awe of her skill.
I think the photo illustrating #5 pretty well explains about my younger friends. I could have given birth to all of them. While I try very, very hard not to play the "Mama card," occasionally I find myself offering advice based on years of experience. And they do their best to keep me in touch with all things current. I mean, a woman closing in on sixty can only dress so young before she crosses the line from fashionable to ridiculous. The Playfriends help me stay on the right side of that line.
And as for the last one, it's a slippery slope and one I'll have to negotiate carefully.
Friends are essential. They have a positive effect on mood and self-esteem, and they offer support in tough times and suggest ways to cope. They like you because they want to, not because they have to. And a REALLY good friend will be right there in the jail cell beside you saying, "Oh my gosh, wasn't that fun!?!?!"
Do you have all 6 kinds of friends?
Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card!!!
The Playfriends are celebrating the new look of our website for 2010 by giving out a big prize this week – a $50 gift card to Amazon.com . The catch? You must answer a question from each day about the website to be entered to win – that’s 5 answers. Check out the blog each day of this week and answer the question found at the bottom of the blog post by sending the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional entries may be earned by reporting any broken links you find on the website to the same email address. The winner will be announced on Saturday, so be sure to check in then too. If the prize is not claimed within 7 days, we’ll be awarding it to someone else who answered the questions.
Today's question addresses the Playfriends' appreciation of handsome men. Name one of the men residing in the Locker Room at the Writing Playground site.