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Bringing Friendly Back
Do you ever find yourself wishing people were just a little nicer? A little more kind? Warm? Friendly? If so, this one is for you!
But, first a quick + friendly hello!
Welcome to The LIFT
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A FRIEND INDEED
My middle name is Friend - Karen Friend Smith. It’s actually my mom’s family name.
I always try to live up to my name. To be a ‘good’ friend. It’s aspirational.
In some ways, I’m a fantastic friend. I am very dependable + loyal. I’m the kind of person you can trust. You can tell me anything + have full confidence I will not repeat it.
In other ways, I’m a terrible friend. I don’t do those special things like remember important dates or show up unannounced right when you need it.
I may never be a ‘perfect’ friend, but there is always a way to be a better friend + since it’s in my name, it is always top of mind for me.
People talk about how hard it is to make new friends in midlife. I can see that. If it weren’t for my work friends + my neighbors, I don’t know where I would find new friends these days.
A lot of my newest friends are people I have never met in person. We connected online over common interests + a friendship was sparked.
I think friendship starts in those moments when we just look up + acknowledge someone. Whether in person or online. You just say ‘hi’. You let someone know you heard what they said or appreciated what they shared.
A connection is made.
The hardest part of making friends is doing the easy thing - being friendly.
FRIENDS + BENEFITS
Community + friendship is such an important part of our well-being. It should be at the TOP of our list of things to do every day - just like exercise + healthy eating.
In fact, research shows friendships are just as important as diet and exercise.
Social connection is linked to lower blood pressure, less inflammation, reduced risk of diabetes, lower BMI. This is across all age groups!
Relationships + community matter.
My husband + I have a weekly Happy Hour with neighbors on Wednesday nights. It’s as important for us as our weight-lifting on Tuesdays + Thursdays at the gym. We make it a priority.
Do you prioritize friendship in your life? Do you think of it as part of your health?
One of the longest-running human studies on happiness has shown that relationships are the number one key indicator of joy + happiness.
The people who had the most satisfaction in their friendships at age 50 were the healthiest + happiest at age 80.
Isn’t that fascinating?
Friendship improves your physical health, immunity, mental health, financial well-being, longevity + happiness. Our brains + our health are wired for social connections.
And, it’s not about the number of friends. It’s about the quality of those friendships.
We could all benefit from learning how to be a better friend.
BRINGING FRIENDLY BACK
A lot has changed since the pandemic when it comes to social interaction.
Have you noticed?
When we first moved into our building in 2019, we would strike up conversations with strangers in the elevator. We would go to events + walk up to people we didn’t know + introduce ourselves.
Fast forward to 2023, most elevator rides are awkward silence these days. Everyone’s head is down. We rarely go to events where there are people we don’t know. And, when we do, we don’t go out of our way to introduce ourselves to strangers.
It’s become a bad habit. And, I think it’s time to bring some friendly back.
I remember growing up in Santa Cruz, California. I learned at a young age - never talk to strangers. It was a hippie town + we had some very interesting characters scattered around. It was always safest to just avoid eye contact + mind your own business to avoid any confrontation.
When I went away to college in Kearney, Nebraska, I remember being a bit taken back when people driving down the street would wave + shout hello from their cars as I walked down the main street toward campus. It took me a while to adapt + learn to be friendly in this new culture. (It was also hard when I would go back home again because sometimes I was friendlier than I should be.)
It was a dance. Knowing when to be friendly + when not to be. I didn’t always get it right, but I got pretty good at it.
You may already be a friendly person. I guess it all depends on where you live + the culture around you, but we could ALL use a little brush up on friendliness after these last few years.
We are always looking down at our phones or avoiding eye contact.
Even online, we ignore each other. We don’t make eye contact.
This newsletter is a great example. I know by the analytics how many of you read this newsletter every week. And yet, less than 1% actually click the little heart to let me know you were here.
How often do you acknowledge or thank the author of the book you just read or the writer behind your favorite newsletter?
How often do you scroll past someone’s photo or post on social media without acknowledging it?
We all do it. But, what would happen if we just took a quick second to give it a ‘like’ or leave a short comment? To acknowledge that person. To ‘say hi’. To be just a little bit 'friendly’.
The same is true in ‘real life’. How hard is it to just smile + say hi as you pass someone on the sidewalk or join them in line at the grocery store?
GET YOUR FRIENDLY ON
One of the best things you can do for your health is contribute to + strengthen the community around you.
Show up. Say hi. Give feedback. Share a compliment.
It not only makes the person you connect with feel good, it makes YOU feel good.
During the pandemic, I would go running with a friend several times a week. We deemed Thursdays as the ‘Cookie Run’ because she had a t-shirt with cookies printed all over it + we decided that when she wore that shirt, we would make a point of saying ‘Good Morning’ to every person we passed on our route.
It was a fun social experiment. Some people would never look up. Others would be startled. Others would smile + greet us right back. It was our feel-good run for the week + we got such a kick out of seeing how people responded.
In the spirit of the ‘Cookie Run’, this week, I’m bringing FriendlyBack. I want to be that person who says hello. Who makes eye contact. Who smiles. Who brings good energy to the scene.
Our world needs it. We need it.
If we want good friends in our life, we have to be good friends.
And, every good friendship starts with a friendly hello.
Want to join me?
This week, I challenge you to be ‘that’ person - the one who smiles + says hello.
Just flip the switch. Turn on the friendly. If I can do it, YOU can do it!
And, just think, if all of us reading this post went out of our way to be friendly - both online + offline this week - we just might make some new connections + improve our health.
Wouldn’t that be amazing?
READ: 7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Friends are Important | Science of People
READ: 10 Action Steps to Become a Good Friend | Science of People
They say you are who you hang out with. Thanks for hanging out here with me every week! It’s little moments of connection like this that make us happier, healthier + ready to make the world a better place.
See you next week?
Until then - I’m sharing some good stuff all week on Instagram @itmaybemenopause Come connect with me there!
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