Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy Summer Book Club // Chapter No. 6

"Make time for friends."


  • Remember birthdays.
  • Be generous.
  • Show up.
  • Don't gossip.
  • Make three new friends.
Another chapter that I loved! It's great to hear that not only is friendship is a strong predictor of happiness but that you will actually live longer because of it. And -- wow -- that friendships are a healthier thing to do than quitting smoking.  Geez. This chapter had great timing, too -- there was a good article in the NY Times last weekend about the stages of friendships Did you see it? I really related to it as it talks about how much harder it is to have friendships as you get older. 

Going in reverse of the chapter, do you guys like making new friends? Is it a priority for you? I always think making new friends is fun.  I remember so many times when my girlfriends and I have squealed to each other that we met the neatest new girl. But -- like that article said -- it can really take a lot of time to cultivate a new friendship. I think there's a big difference between friends and people you socialize with. I've learned the hard way that some people just aren't up for the task of the heavy lifting when times are tough.  Lots of people will work for dinner and wine. There are few people who can help you through life's greatest tragedies. So while I think it's fun to keep things fresh with trying to meet new friends, cultivating your long-term friendships and making sure you aren't taking each other for granted is really important, too. 

Maybe that's one reason that I didn't really like her birthday idea. What did you guys think about that? I actually love the idea of it. It's just that I've done that over the years and don't find it to be especially bonding. I love sending birthday cards in the mail. And I've done my own experiments. Sometimes those far and away friends never acknowledge cards. And they may be bad at reciprocating or keeping in touch. So it ends up being a sad thing. So I stopped putting the pressure on myself to do that. If I feel like it, I do it. But I don't think that strengthened any friendships. Maybe email is better, like she's doing?  But Facebook -- wow, I think we can all agree that birthdays on Facebook are pretty rad, right? (And P.S. here's something ironic -- must be out of business because their domain name is for sale.) I'd love to hear any similar ideas you have to the birthday email idea.

And the gossip!  I totally agree -- and disagree all at the same time. But best-best friends need to be in the spousal privilege, too, don't you think?  I can't imagine seeing a friend suffer (in maybe a sensitive issue like money, husbands or substance abuse) and not asking another friend if we should be concerned and brainstorm about what we can do to help. That's not gossip! Gossip is mean-spirited and unconstructive. And let me tell you, I've been on the receiving end of ugly gossip and it's not pretty. So I learned a long time ago not to assume and not to judge. But not having a community around friendships sort of negates and important part of friendships to me -- it's the village that's part of the importance, too. But back to the spousal privilege -- I can't believe she's trying to spare her husband that. I just can't imagine holding that in! Talk about unhappy.  I really want to unleash. And I love doing it. :)

Are you going to try any of her techniques to make yourself open to meeting new friends? It really is such a fun thing to have a new friend in your life ... even though I did laugh out loud about her suggestions to "show a readiness to be pleased and follow others' conversational leads." But I've moved cities quit a few times and those would be reminders when you are trying to find new friends. And what did you reflect on for the Be Generous & Show Up lessons? I absolutely loved the tidbit about the more often you see a person the more intelligent and attractive they become. Or how about the "fundamental attribution error" where we think other people's poor actions are a reflection on their character but when we do something, we have good reason. Hysterical!

We are halfway through the book, ladies! Are you doing any sort of your own Happiness Project? I got the journal that I told you about but I'm no closer. At the end of the summer, I think I'll take the time I put into re-reading the chapter and writing about it here towards focusing on my own little project.  Don't forget -- MJ is writing about this process this summer, too. Have you been over to say hello? 

Here's a link to the book she talked about -- Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years

{Photo by Beth Lane. Found here}.


  1. I've moved a lot too since university and actively look to make friends. That SNYT article was sooo right - it IS harder now when you don't get as much face time with new people. You don't have those 6 hour coffees anymore where you talk about anything and everything.

    I find that I make friends with people who are from other places as they "get" what it's like. Most of the time, people who were born and raised here have their own set network and aren't interested in adding someone new to it. It isn't personal, but you add in career and kids and family and existing friends and you don't have a lot of time.

  2. Hi Denise! Friendship. I thought this chapter had a lot of goodness to share. As a slight introvert, I adore my few loyal, long-time friends. I, too, have moved many times, and I see the value of finding new friends, too, where you are. That seems to be more difficult the more invested we get in our children's lives. Happy reading! Thanks for always offering a mention! XO, MJ

  3. I am a slacker; just finished the chapter last night, but part of my tardiness was due to a night out (actually, in at a friends' house) with (what my son calls) my "girl gang". So, sort of appropriate!

    I really related to her first paragraph, and the research that "strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness". When we were in Westchester, NY for a year right after b-school, I was miserable; it was the first time in my life I had moved someplace and had no friends, and no easy way to meet them. The people at work were all much older with totally different interests, and the people I did know nearby-ish were in Manhattan. While I spent every weekend in Manhattan, living there wasn't possible because it would have been too far from work, so my weekdays were very lonely. That experience, though, has made me appreciate being in situations where it is easy to meet new people effortlessly and organically.

    I agree with you on "Remember Birthdays". There are a few people I call on their birthday, but for the most part Facebook is the best.

    I really liked her section on "Cut People Slack", and so liked the line "people's lives are far more complicated than they appear from the outside". You really never know what is going on in someone's life. That said, when someone consistently doesn't "Show Up", after a while it gets hard to cut them slack!

    And, gossip! Yikes! I absolutely agree with you that it is important to be able to talk to good friends about another good friend in a tough situation, as long as it is constructive and in an effort to help. But, I have grown to absolutely hate gossip for "sport", which I think I my younger years I definitely got caught up in. It goes back to not really knowing what is going on in someone's life, so it is just awful to mean-spiritedly gossip about someone. And, I hate when I end of being part of a gossipy conversation and not knowing how to gracefully get out of it or change the conversation.

    Finally, in her checklist for meeting new friends, I loved "create a positive mood." In my grandmother's final years she suffered from dementia and could no longer live in her home. Whenever we visited her, she would tell us "the people are nice and the food is good". It became a joke, but I realized how amazing her positive outlook was even when her wits weren't totally about her. I am certain we wouldn't have enjoyed visiting her as much if she was always bitching about everything. So, when I find myself getting negative, I really try to remember "the people are nice and the food is good".

    Such fun! Thanks for the book club, and for our re-found, now "virtual" friendship!