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Why it’s so important to make time for friends

I just got back from a two-hour lunch with friends. And boy do I feel good, even though I was supposed to be sitting in my office writing this post! It’s really healthy to get out in the “real world” occasionally, a place where people know you as your real self, separately from your kids or your job, or even your spouse. Sometimes I think that I should make a checklist of my friends and make sure that I have lunch with one of them every week until I get through the list; just schedule it and make it happen. After all, it would only be two hours a week.

We always talk about how you have to make time for exercise… you know, “do something for yourself” every day. But I think that making time for friends may be equally good for us. It recharges us, takes us away from our normal responsibilities for a short time and reminds us that we are more than just a parent, a spouse, a lawyer, a cashier or whatever else we are called, even a book editor.

The Greek playwright Euripides said, “It is a good thing to be rich, and it is a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be loved of many friends.” So I guess he agreed: Work is a good thing, staying strong through fitness is good, but the best thing is to have friends.

I get a lot of good advice from the people who write for us, and one story that made a big impression on me is “Mom’s Night Out” by Mimi Greenwood Knight in our book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood. She writes about how much she looks forward to her night out with friends each month, saying, “Nothing can bother me today; not the mud tracked all over the carpet, not the half-hour search for my car keys, not the eternity spent on hold with the insurance company, not the crayon on the living room wall. Tonight is the night when my friends and I leave the kids at home and get to act like kids ourselves.” Mimi writes about the “support, encouragement and friendship” she gets on her night out and how “therapeutic” it is. After her meeting, she says, “I have renewed energy and my positive outlook is back. I feel like I can take on the world.”

I felt just like that as I drove back to work today, like I had been on a mini-vacation. I returned to work recharged and enthusiastic about writing my post and doing my other work. All that from a two-hour lunch with friends!

Friendships are special bonds and even after a move, we all have “Girlfriends, Near and Far.”

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