Texting Gaining Clout – OMG!

When the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) starts adding words to their recognized terms, it says something about our culture. For all the grammarians being driven crazy by the shortened phrases and misspelled words, it may be time to go with the flow.  I don’t consider myself a grammarian, but I just get annoyed when I see words which have been made popular by texting make their way into a professional email, article or news story. You know the ones I’m talking about:

TTYL – Talk To You Later

LOL – Laugh Out Loud

OMG – Oh My God

I think these words being added to the OED can be traced down to friends. Why? Well, it’s friends who text each other incessantly.  Friends want to keep in touch with each other, and texting makes it incredibly easy. I still prefer to pick up the phone, it’s more personal… but I’m old school.   So while I’m a bit resistant to adopt texting as a form of communication, I’m finding it too hard to ignore.  I’ll receive texts and feel an obligation to reply.  Friendships are too important.  I don’t want to lose any friends just to make a point of my frustration with texting as a form of communication.

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Seven Tips For Making New Friends

Spring is here and it’s time to do some spring cleaning, and not just in the house, but of your entire life. If you’re unhappy with your job, start looking for a new one.  If you need a little oomph put into your social life, start making new friends. You don’t necessarily have to get rid of old friends, but make some new connections and expand your horizons.  There are several ways you can reach out and make new friends. Here are some things to try.

1.       Get Out of the House. Accept invitations for all social gatherings, including after work get-togethers, neighborhood BBQs, and family gatherings.  You’ll put yourself in a position where you can make new contacts in-person.

2.       Go to a Gym or Recreation Center. Any place where you can take classes and be active with other people who share the same interest, is a great place to meet people. You’ll already have something in common with these people and it can provide great roots to establish a new friendship.

3.       Volunteer Your Time.  Volunteering will always make you feel good about yourself.  Look for opportunities where you can spend your time volunteering with others. You’ll be able to bond by your interest and devotion to a common cause.

4.       Join a Sports Team. It can be soccer, basketball, softball, bowling or tennis. If you have a team of people who you regularly get together with you’ll have instant friends.  Not only will you make friends with your new teammates, but you’ll have a chance to meet your opponents as well.

5.       Say Hello.  Simply greeting people you see in a store or on a walk in a park with eye contact and a smile can open many doors for you.  You’ll be surprised how many people will react positively to your greeting. It will open up the door for further conversation.

6.       Be a Good Listener.  Many people are looking for new friends too. They may be hesitant to open up and talk or to make the first move. If you are a good listener you can pick up on the verbal cues given by others.

7.       Make The First Move. Even after you meet someone at a party, on a walk, or on a sports team, you have to initiate something where you can get together in the future.  Have a couple ideas in mind like walking the dogs together, or brushing up on your tennis serve.


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Friendships Between Couples

So you are in a relationship and both you and your significant other have other couples that you get together with for dinners, social events, back yard bbq’s etc.  Double dates are great because they allow you and your partner to enjoy the company of each other while still mingling with others.   But there are also a few possible dilemmas caused with this scenario.

1.       One Half of the Other Couple Bugs! – You and your partner decide you only like one half of the couple you’ve been hanging out with.  The reasoning can vary. Maybe it is a man who voices his opinion on politics too frequently, or a woman who always has to outshine you in everything, or maybe it’s just someone who gets on your nerves.  What do you do? I was in this situation recently and found myself just hanging out with the female half of the couple.  Neither my boyfriend nor I could tolerate her hubby for too long.  We no longer get together as couples.  We eliminated the annoying hubby from the picture.  Now I just go on walks with my girlfriend or an occasional movie, shopping trip, or lunch outing.  Dinners as a foursome are out of the question. But I still have a great girlfriend so it’s all good with me.

2.       The Breakup – You and your partner double date with another couple and that couple breaks up. Uh-oh! Do you have to choose one side? You’ll likely hear both sides of the story in their own skewed perspectives whether you want to or not.   I’ve been in this situation, and it’s not so fun. It’s tough, unless someone was absolutely nasty, I never want to have to select sides. But usually I had a better connection with one person, and it tends to all work out naturally. So no choices have to be made, things just fall into place on their own.

3.       The Crush – Romance brews between the wrong people. What do you do if your neighbor takes a liking to your husband? Assuming your husband doesn’t have a mutual level of affection, this can put everyone involved in an awkward situation.  It’s probably best to distance yourself from this couple and remove any temptation.  Find some new friends.

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Friends Tell You What You Won’t Tell Yourself

Have you ever noticed you’ll go to a friend to talk about a problem, it could be something like relationship troubles, job issues or financial dilemmas. You’ll dutifully describe the issue with all the details, give the pros and cons to the situation. You’ll go over all the possible scenarios relating to the issue.  Your friend meanwhile will just look at you like you are crazy. They’ll give you the look of, ‘Duh, the answer is obvious.’

That’s because the answer is obvious and you know it too, but you just aren’t allowing yourself to come to the answer on your own.

Why is that? Is the truth too painful? Probably.  Do we as humans try to justify poor behavior and poor decisions by having our friends to back us up? Probably.  You know you have a good friend when they set you straight. They tell you what you don’t want to hear. They tell you what you won’t even tell yourself.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation.  I’ve had friends come to me describing their relationship woes and trying to justify reasons for their partner’s poor behavior.  It’s weird listening to what is so irrational.  Today I found myself on the other side of that irrational line. It stunk being that person that can’t find the answer on my own. But I so appreciate my friend who told it to me straight and reminded me that I already knew the answer. Because I do, I just didn’t want to admit it.

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Friends Don’t Forget Friends on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is here, and you either love it or hate it.  Yes, it’s a holiday which has been glamorized by those hoping to profit from it, i.e. greeting card manufacturers, florists, chocolatiers, etc.  But it doesn’t bother me that those companies are attempting to make a profit.  I look at it as another reason to show affection toward the special man in my life. With crazy schedules and long work hours sometimes we need to be reminded of the importance of spending time with and paying some extra attention to our loved ones. Valentine’s Day fits the bill quite well.

For single people Valentine’s Day can be nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders to a day full of hopeful anticipation and even stress.  A lot of women day dream about a beautiful bouquet of flowers arriving from a long lost love, or a secret admirer.  Many men make it a day to propose marriage, and they want to get it just right.  V Day is a great time to reach out to those not in relationships and say hello, send a nice card, or go to lunch.  They want to feel special too, and if a friend can help achieve that, then why wait?

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Facebook Friends or Facebook Strangers?

With Facebook ranking in the top 10 most visited sites and nearing the one billion users mark it made me wonder how well do we really know most of the people we have ‘Friended’ on Facebook.  I have about 150 friends, and I’ve been at that number for several months. Most of my Facebook friends were added within the first 3 months of being on the site. After the initial 90 day period, I’d occasionally come across a friend to add, or someone would come across me. I had one really pleasant surprise when I heard from an old friend from many years earlier whom I had completely lost touch with. Other than that, it was just a casual acquaintance who decided to add me.

Many of my Facebook friends are people I knew from high school. Even if we weren’t exactly palling around in high school it’s still nice to keep in touch, at least at a distance. Some have married, started families, others have started businesses, become artists, and others have become weird.  After checking out their profile and seeing what the last several years of life has brought to them, I really don’t have much to say. Although I suppose it’s nice to be able to contact them directly if I want to, I doubt I ever will.

My true friends whom I see frequently or talk on the phone with regularly are the ones I value most.  Oddly these people just don’t happen to post many photos, status updates or IM me to say hi.   Just as well, because the true connections are formed with one-on-one conversations and in person get-togethers

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Short Commute, Social Connections, and Financial Security Equate to Happiness

Dan Buettner author of The Blue Zones, has made multiple media appearances in the past few months and is providing anyone who cares to listen, the keys to happiness.

According to his research of studying the happiest people around the world, some of the things which will make you most happy are:

Job Close To Home

Apparently just about everyone hates to commute, myself included.  Buettner’s research indicates it takes an increase in salary of $40,000 a year to offset the bad vibes encountered with a one hour daily commute.  Working at the coffee shop on the corner might make you happier than driving across town to work in an office.

Good Social Life

Duh! Nothing ground breaking here at Friendiversary, but reinforcing the fact that a great network of friends, family, and even neighbors and co-workers can provide an increased level of happiness.  Buettner’s studies conclude people who are interacting with others for eight hours a day are happier than those with less social interaction.

Financial Security

It’s not what you may think. More money does make you happier, but only to a point. On average a family of four in the U.S. can achieve the peak level of happiness when earning $75K a year. Additional income provides diminishing returns on happiness.  Buettner suggests it’s the experiences which make us happiest over time, not the material goods which bring short term happiness.

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Should Spouses Be Our Best Friends?

I’ve been listening to a radio show, which often times drives me crazy, but I must get some pleasure out of hating it, because I tune in regularly.  Today’s topic is:

Should your spouse be your best friend?

The host of the show takes the stand of:

No, spouses shouldn’t be your best friend.

Her reasoning is that many of us are misguided into thinking that we will be married to our best friend. It creates an unrealistic standard which the other partner can’t live up to.  To back up her statement she cites the high divorce rate in America of over fifty percent.   If those spouses were really best friends, the divorce rate would be much lower. Friendships outlast marriages. Her thinking is friendship is unconditional. Marriage is conditional.

As much as we like to think and hope for a marriage which is unconditional it’s a bit unrealistic.  Marriage is conditional upon standards which are typically set by society. For instance if a spouse cheats with three other partners and drains the bank account, the other spouse is highly unlikely to stick around. They may still love the other person, but stay in a marriage? Doubt it.  A best friend however may get hurt if he or she gets snubbed for a lunch date and won’t be sharing a bank account with you.  So perhaps it’s a tale of less risk, less reward.

So I partially agree with the controversial talk show host.  We shouldn’t expect our spouses to be our best friends and love us through everything no matter what. If we get that, we’ve hit the jackpot.  But to expect that does seem idealistic.

My stance, it’s good to have a best friend or several friends in your life. Surrounding yourself with great friends can get you through many troubled relationships. Sure I’d like my spouse to be my best friend too, but I’ll never hold him to that standard.

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Fragile Handle With Care

I had a birthday recently. My best friend on the planet was kind enough to come up with some birthday activity ideas for me. She gave me three options:

1.       Take a 2 hour class where we make pendants out of glass, and go to lunch.

2.       Take a Zumba class, and go to lunch.

3.       Tour a Celestial Seasonings Tea factory, and go to lunch.

I was sold with just lunch. But since I needed to select an activity to accompany lunch, I acquiesced. I’ve never made pendants out of glass, I’ve never taken Zumba, and I’ve toured the tea factory once. So it was a hard-hitting mind battle between glass and Zumba. Well actually there wasn’t any hard-hitting going on. Zumba sounds fun, but like way too much work for a birthday activity. I do however intend to give it a shot someday.  So glass pendant making won.  Two other of my great friends joined us, so it was a foursome of awesome friends which I’ve had for years. I totaled the years of my friendship with these gals, 90 years! Good times.

While at the glass class I got to thinking, friendships are fragile much like the glass we were working with.  If you take them for granted, they can crack, break and splinter.  They can cut you with a sharp edge if not careful. If you are cautious with them, they’ll never shatter or fall apart. They’ll always be there and they will be solid. So just a reminder, value your friendships as much as you would value a piece of delicate glass artwork. I’m looking forward to the day these friendships hit the century mark.

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I’ve Crowdsourced My Friendships

I’ve fallen in love…with crowdsourcing.  If you’re not familiar with crowdsourcing, I’ll give you a brief explanation. Crowdsourcing utilizes a group of people (i.e crowd) to work on certain tasks.  Instances where crowdsourcing can be used include both business and personal applications. Some examples are:

  • Adding keywords to photographs for better internet search results
  • Calling all the restaurants in New York City to see if they accept reservations for a busy Valentine’s Day dinner
  • Testing websites for functionality and usability

Crowdsourcing enables workers to work on as much as they’d like to take on.  Workers select the projects they participate in by a number of factors including, gauging their level of interest, money they can make, and time involved.  Crowdsourcing enables a group of people to achieve a larger goal.

This made me realize, I crowdsourced my friendships unintentionally. For instance, some of the activities I like to participate in are:

  • Bowling
  • Seeing Movies
  • Attending Concerts
  • Eating out
  • Exercising
  • Attending Football Games

I have been on the same bowling team with three friends for years.  I see those three people in other facets of my life, mainly at parties because we share some common acquaintances. But primarily these three people are ‘Bowling Friends’.  I see movies with a few different friends and sometimes we’ll go to grab a bite to eat before or after the movie.  But these friends and I never go to football games together. The ‘Football Friends’ are a different group altogether.  Occasionally, I’ll jog or work out with a friend, these friends don’t crossover to any other activities. They are strictly the ‘Exercise Friends’.

Every friend seems to have a purpose. My friendship need is fulfilled by a group of people who have all taken portions of the job….I hate to say being my friend is a job, but I want to keep the metaphor consistent.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this, and think most people have a variety of friends who are all perfect for different activities.

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