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Celebrate Friendship Day:  Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Celebrate Friendship Day: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

The theme song from the hit sitcom, ‘Cheers’ got it right.  “…sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”  It is about being recognized and cared about.  Social engagement and connection is important in every stage of our lives — and is especially important as we grow older. The first Sunday in August celebrates Friendship Day.  Proclaimed in 1935 by the United States Congress, many countries have since embraced the tradition. Being with a good friend just makes us feel better.  As a matter of fact, research now suggests that people who remain connected and engaged, show a reduced physical and cognitive decline, and actually live longer. While positive family relationships can be enriching, affirming friendships (other than our spouse and immediate children) tend to have an even greater bearing on our well-being. Yet maintaining long-term friendships becomes more difficult with time.  Retirement, family moves, and losses all contribute to a reduction of our social network.  Indeed, my husband and I recently lost 4 of our closest ‘inner circle’ friends and 2 valued colleagues within a short 20 month period. With a physical move added to the mix, we had the challenge of creating a new ‘social normal.’  Quantity versus Quality It is not just more engagement — it is about more quality engagement.  Minutes in the presence of someone who gets you, appreciates you, and even challenges you to be all that you can be, is more powerful than hours spent with someone who doesn’t see who you are.  And ultimately, the shared moments that sometimes need no words can...