Building a Support Network: Living Longer and Better

We all want friends in our lives. Every person deep inside has the desire to be truly cared for and to care for others. In reality this is something all people have in common all over the world, in all corners of the globe. Anyone who is being completely honest will admit this, even if not openly. So what are we going to do about it?

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There are countless ways to approach the situation. One option is to walk up to the next person we meet on the street corner and ask them if they would like to be our friend. We could go onto every social media site out there in search of “friends”. Sporting events attract a lot of people. Maybe that is where to find that special friend?

Building a social support network is an important aspect to living a healthy life. The question remains what is the best way to go about forming and establishing lasting, meaningful friendships in our lives? We can’t just rub a magic lamp and expect for these relationships to miraculously create themselves.

There is one way we can cheat ourselves of the opportunity to form a healthy social network. Equally as important as what to do, is what not to do. I am going to risk sounding too much like a mom and share some precautionary advice.

Increasingly more and more studies are showing that undoubtedly the use of “social” media is resulting in less and less in person interactions. In other words there is very little “social” about it. Many studies and polls show that people that go on social media regularly feel worse after going on it than they did before entering into that virtual reality. Many report feeling like their lives are not as good as others or feeling sad that they missed out on something or upset that someone “unfriended”/”unfollowed” them. Others admit somehow measuring their worth on amounts of “friends” or “likes” they receive.

The disturbing fact is we are trying to fulfill this desire to love and be loved within a social media platform that ultimately leaves us feeling more lonely and isolated more often than not. All the while there is this pressure to present a picture of our lives in a way that we are hoping will be received favorably by others. That is exhausting! What’s worse is all the while we are missing out on opportunities to form true lasting friendships person to person…face to face, rather than Facebook page to Facebook page.

It is worth evaluating how social media may be actually prohibiting us from meeting people or nurturing the relationships we have already established and that require some effort to maintain. It not necessarily detrimental to spend limited amounts of time staying in touch with people dear to us that we can’t see often or checking out things posted by others that inspire us in our personal growth, but my point is social media sites are not the place to look to fulfill that longing we have to care for and be cared for by others.

Ok back to the idea of asking the next person we see on the street corner if they would like to be our friend, or going to some sporting or music event where we will find a sea of people. How about that? Why not try that approach?

I am going to suggest you consider something deeply. Take a moment to think about how influential friends are in your life. Is it not true that we have this tendency to want to please our friends, and additionally that we have can easily become more and more like the people we hang out with over time. Be honest!

Since the people we socialize with can have such a profound effect on our overall lives shouldn’t we carefully consider what direction we desire to go in our lives and consider how our friendships will effect this? Choosing our friends is a very important decision to make.

For example, if you would like to bring an increased sense of wellness and goodness into your life then it is worth considering how to create a social network that will support you in this goal. Going to group activities that support your efforts in personal growth like yoga, tai chi, vegetarian cooking classes, chi gung, meditation, etc are great places to meet new friends and to expand your social support network based on your interests and goals.

You can recommend activities to friends that will benefit you all on many levels. For example, choose physical activities that result in physical fitness and bonding like walking, running, or biking in nature, a carefree game of soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. If you have friends that have not tried yoga or tai chi invite them to join you for a class. In this way you are showing that you care for your friend.

When it comes to close friendships, most often small is beautiful. In other words having a couple of close friends is more fulfilling than having lots of friends that we don’t feel a very deep bond of friendship with. We can make a good deal of personal growth putting some effort and attention into a couple of cherished relationships and doing our best to truly be a friend ourselves to someone. This does not mean that we don’t have many other people in our lives that we are friendly with, simply that we hold a few people particular close to our hearts and nurture those bonds.

There is something of great importance that will allow us to experience deep and lasting inner peace and happiness while growing in our friendships with others. It is vital actually! The understanding that we are all children of the Supreme Person, brothers and sisters in the truest sense, will allow us to experience a deep and lasting bond with one another.

When we experience that we are not only all related but that each of us are loved unconditionally by Supreme Person, naturally we are no longer seeking that “perfection” in others and can let go of unrealistic expectations. We are not so affected if someone “unfriends” us because we know Supreme Person is our best friend always! This is something that can be experienced! Every living entity or person is a spark of Supreme Person and we should embrace the true equality of all living beings and respect them. Accepting this fact of equality of all living beings will bring harmony and peace to each one of us and to the whole world.

Appreciating close friendships as blessings in our lives, our gratitude for people close to us grows, simultaneously our need/desire for them to somehow fulfill or serve us lessens. Increasingly, we are inclined to lovingly serve our Supreme Person as brothers and sisters. In this way we can easily achieve the desired result and satisfaction, maintaining deeply meaningful lasting friendships in which we experience being cared for and caring for another person.

Building and having a social support network will allow us to lead a long, healthy, more fulfilling life, especially if we are thoughtful about our association and make effort to lead a conscious life, supporting one another along the way. Also since a long time, the problem of racism and hatred has bitten the society to a large extent. This is due to the lack in understanding that we are not the physical bodies nor we belong a certain religious sect or we speak a certain language etc.

There are so many metrics that we attach with this body and we create a reason for distinction between the person staying together in a society. This hinders the social bonding and further aggravates the social or global harmony. We also lack the understanding of very original fact, that we are offspring of the same Supreme Person. I will end with some words of wisdom that are sure to guide us in our relationships, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” In other words…be the friend you would wish to have.