Over the last few weeks I have spent many hours going over my Mother’s pictures and slides as I put together a slide show for her 90th Birthday.  And one of the things that stood out is that her circle of friends remained pretty constant over more than 60 years. And while a good number are no longer with us, many of those still with us showed up to help celebrate her 90th birthday. Her friendships were enduring, providing her with not only friendship in good times, but support in times of need over the years.

And this got me to thinking – how enduring are our modern ‘friendships’? Today people tend to move more often and families become dispersed. In my own case my husband and I moved over 750 km from the rest of the family when I got a job offer in Ottawa. And now 3 of my children have likewise moved quite a distance – I have a daughter in Oakville, a son in B.C, and another son in N.B. (giving me excellent reasons to vacation from coast to coast!). Only one daughter is reasonably close by.  I’ve lost touch with my friends from high school and university – back when I moved away for university long distance calls were very expensive. Then I moved ‘across the pond’ to join my husband in Cambridge and not only were the calls expensive but difficult to make! We didn’t have the internet and Skype and cell phones were unheard of, except maybe for military use, who knows.

Friendships, along with close family ties, provide us with a feeling of connectedness.  We know that these are the people who know and understand us, who we can turn to in times of trouble.  They provide a sounding board, a place to test out our ideas and receive supportive feedback. We’re comfortable in their presence and don’t have to pretend to be something we’re not.  We can relax or vent, we can be crazy or simply sit in silence.  No matter what, they accept us ‘as is’, something I think we all want, to be accepted without judgement but with love. And I think that this is an important component of thriving. Because to really thrive, to flourish in our life, we need to know that we’re not alone, that there are people out there who ‘have our back’ and will be there when we need them come thick or thin. People who we can count on when we need someone to turn to. And likewise, someone who we are willing to go the extra mile for because we’re friends – or family.

And I’m not sure having a few thousand Facebook friends provides the same level of connectedness, of support, that deep down we all want. While it’s nice to connect with people over the internet I don’t think that these connections will ever replace the actual person to person friendships. They can support real friendships and help people stay in touch over great distances which does support the bond of friendship. This is something which I see with my children – how easy it is for them to stay in touch with family and friends in the digital world, and I must say I’m envious of them – I wish I’d had the same resources all those years ago when I left home. But technology and virtual friendships will not take the place of real face to face friendships.

The bottom line is that I know that it’s time that I started to truly re-connect with friends from my past, people who have meant a great deal to me but who I’ve lost touch with over the years for one reason or another, mostly related to distance and time. But that’s one advantage of the internet – it can now help me track down people I’ve lost touch with and help me re-connect virtually, until I have an opportunity to do it ‘for real’.

How about you? Have you managed to stay in touch with your circle of friends over the years? How strong is your support circle – of family – of friends? Have you managed to keep your friendships alive and well over then years, can you still turn to them when you need someone to talk to?

And if not, are you willing to do something about it?  Because if you want a thriving life you really do need other people in it who you can always talk to about anything. People who will support you, cheer you on in whatever endeavours you try and cheer you up when that’s what you need. There’s no better time than the present to reach out and reconnect! I’m game, how about you?

So until the next time, THRIVE on 🙂







Karen Switzer-Howse

Canada’s Premier ThriveSynergy Strategist