At this time of the year we all look forward to some time off to catch up with friends and family. We spend more time with family and friends at this time of year and with this come joy and occasionally frustration and arguments.
This is real life and in all relationships there will be times of disagreement and frustration but the benefits of having family and friends far outweighs the negative. As I write this I am about to meet my best friend Barry Manson.
We meet once a month to enjoy what we both believe is the best rib restaurant in England called Damons (the place for ribs). We both love to eat and this naughty but nice treat is something we look forward to. Over the 20 years we have known each other we have shared many ups and downs and all the way through these we have supported each other.
When one was down the other was there to listen and support and visa versa. For me one of the most important things in life is to have good relationship with people. Relationships come before your career, the things you own, your dreams – if you don’t have good relationships with a number of people then you don’t really have a successful life. Your family and close friends come first, then the outer circle of people.
What do people really value?
It is well known that when people are on their death bed they don’t ask for their bank statement or a summary of their achievements to be printed out for them to read – they ask for the people closest to them to be at their bedside. So when it all boils down, the things we achieve, and own are nice, but they don’t make us truly happy – good relationships with people does.
Our job is to replicate the same effort we make at Christmas and spread it throughout the year. We need to balance the workload we have with the people important to us. We need to stop working at times, to attend the school concert, or to go to the cinema with our loved one. Or drop by and see a friend for coffee just to be there. We need to invite people around for coffee or a meal even though we are really busy.
I have been doing this over the past couple of years and have managed to entertain many friends with my wife Julie (fiancée in the early days), even though on the face of it I didn’t have the time. I am so pleased that I have managed to do this as this has added richness to this year – and what a year it has been! I’ve got married, written a book and taken my business to a new level.
The Mao Clinic recognises the importance of relationships and gives us the following advice:
Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health
Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to build or maintain friendships. Understand the importance of friendships in your life and what you can do to develop and nurture friendships.
What are the benefits of friendships?
Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:
• Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
• Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
• Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
• Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
• Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
How can I nurture my friendships?
Developing and maintaining healthy friendships involves give-and-take. Sometimes you’re the one giving support, and other times you’re on the receiving end. Letting friends know you care about them and appreciate them can help strengthen your bond. It’s as important for you to be a good friend as it is to surround yourself with good friends.
To nurture your friendships:
• Accept yourself. Cultivate a healthy, realistic self-image. Work on building your self-esteem by taking care of yourself — eat a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Insecurity and constant self-criticism can be turnoffs to potential friends.
• Accept others. Don’t judge. Give your friends space to change, grow and make mistakes. Encourage your friends to freely express their emotions. Don’t belittle or make fun of what the other person thinks or feels.
• Be positive. Think of friendship as an emotional bank account. Every act of kindness and every expression of approval are deposits into this account, while criticism and negativity draw down the account. Nonstop complaining puts a strain on a friendship.
• Don’t compete. Don’t let friendships turn into a battle over who makes the most money or who has the nicest home. Instead, admire their talents and celebrate their good fortune.
• Listen up. Ask what’s going on in your friends’ lives. Let the other person know you are paying close attention through eye contact, body language and occasional brief comments like, “That sounds fun.” When friends share details of hard times or difficult experiences, be empathetic, but don’t give advice unless your friends ask for it.
• Respect boundaries. Keep confidential any personal information that your friends share with you. Try not to ask questions that make your friends uncomfortable.
Remember, it’s never too late to build new friendships or reconnect with old friends. Investing time in making friends and strengthening your friendships can pay off in better health and a brighter outlook for years to come.
The effort is so worth it!
This is very sound advice and something I have been working on over the past couple of years as workload has increased. It give me great pleasure to look back on this year and think of all the times I have spent with people eating, drinking, laughing, crying, sharing, caring and loving. Life is too short to miss this vital part of a fulfilled rich life.
So as we approach Christmas Julie and I wish you a special time with your loved ones and friends and we hope that you take this into next year and balance your work life with home life and develop maintain those all-important friendships.
Merry Christmas and we wish you a very special 2016.
John and Julie