My 87-year-old friend Ginny is a good example of how important good friends are. She also personifies the characteristics of what it means to be a good friend.
We met about five years ago while Ginny was still caring for her husband, who had late stage Alzheimer’s. We gravitated toward one another. She needed a friend to lean on and so did I. Every week we went out for coffee and sometimes talked on the phone in between. I drove her to eye appointments and Ginny talked me through some very difficult family problems.
These days our deep, soul-touching friendship continues. We laugh at pain, we share outrageous stories and we offer encouragement on a regular basis. Ginny is also inadvertently teaching me what life will be like in 20 years and how I can accept and deal with the continuing changes of old age. And I see her offer friendship to many lonely people at her assisted living community, asking nothing in return. Ginny is a very good friend!
Let’s take a look at friendship and how at any age we can value and cultivate friendships.
Friendship is money in the bank of life
I love what Ted C. Fishman says in an article he wrote for USA Today about the power of friendship, “Having a close buddy is like making an extra $100,000 a year.”
This attention-getting statement relates to how Fishman describes friendship, “It’s a kind of wealth. Kids who have close friends make more money as adults, and adults who have a friend they see on most days add as much well-being as making an extra $100,000 a year.”
Of course, friendship has many more super-good benefits. Friends help us be more active, more outgoing, more responsible and more health conscious.
A main conclusion of the Grant Study at Harvard, which followed its subjects for 75years, was that strong relationships are the most important ingredient to well-being over a long life. It turns out those friends, just as much as family, can give people the connection they need to stay happy and well.
Characteristics of a great friend
Pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher Charles R. Swindoll once mentioned, “I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
Here are some reminders of how to be a great friend at any age:
- Make friends a priority
- Be reliable
- Show forgiveness
- Speak up when necessary
- Be there – good times and bad…
- Help with stress control
Thank you, Ginny, for teaching me all these things!