“Friends are the siblings God never gave us”, Mencius (Chinese Philosopher)
Sunday 1 August is National Friendship Day. It encourages everyone across the world to connect (or reconnect) with friends or even make new ones. It was originally founded by Hallmark in 1919 and was intended to be a day for people to celebrate their friendship by sending each other cards. The world has changed a great deal since then, but the basic idea lives on and, in 1998, Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship by the United Nations
We begin developing friendships when we’re very young and do so throughout our lives. When we are children we explored the world with our school friends and neighbourhood pals. Together we shared experiences and made plans for the future. Eventually, paths diverge, perhaps going to a different school or university. But each new friend expands our experience, our view of the world and our culture changes. Their experiences contribute to new meaning in our lives. Through friendships, we grow and broaden our horizons. Eventually, the world becomes smaller and more connected. I am lucky enough, for example, have friends in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
With the advent of social media it’s easy to accumulate “friends”, but are they true friends or acquaintances? As Marlene Dietrich (American Actress) said, “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter”. How many of your friends would answer your call at 4am?
But as we get older we lose friends and can find it more difficult to make new ones. This can lead to loneliness, isolation and can exacerbate stress and burnout. So it’s important to nurture and cherish your friends and perhaps try to find some new ones. Use this National Friendship day to celebrate the friends you have and the new ones you have yet to meet. Perhaps try some of the following:
• Get in contact with your friends for a chat or visit.
• Accept an invitation to meet new people.
• Share a memory with old friends.
• Tell your friends how much you appreciate them.
• Challenge your circle of friends to share an experience they think none of your other friends have had. You’ll discover new things about your friends and find out just how unique each of them is.
• Send a card / e-card to your friend. It was the original goal of the day.
• Post on social media using #NationalFriendshipDay to encourage others to connect with each other.