Tui Fleming: Why friends are your new family
24 May 2016 3 Minute Read Article by Tui Fleming
I love my family: my parents and my sisters; the family I grew up with. But they’re not my everything anymore, now that I’m a grown woman myself and not living inside the 4 walls of their protection. I flew that nest long ago, and whilst I’m welcome back anytime (and go back to visit often), I’m navigating my own flight in a world with no walls, and they’re not at my home base anymore to catch me if I fall or lift me as I rise.
My world is like your world: it’s full of uncertainty, challenges, sometimes brick walls, glass ceilings – and it’s also full of opportunities and possibility. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s a daily navigation that requires support. My parents and sisters are still here, but they’re not in my life every day. My husband is in my life every day but he works 70 hours per week and he doesn’t have the emotional energy to be my one rock.
Noone has the emotional energy to be our one rock (or if someone in your life does, you are one lucky, lucky woman!).
So I lean on my friends. And I know many of you do too, because I see it every day: the two women out for a walk; new mums who prop each other up; experienced mums who pass on advice; female colleagues who support each other at work, and the wonderful women who mentor other women (may I say here thank you to my female mentors: Kylie Kneale and Adrienne Smith).
Our family are the rocks we return to, always there like huge immovable boulders. But our friends are rocks dotted around our world, like stepping stones, grounding us at points in our path where we may be a little unstable. When we land on these stepping stones – when we lean on our friends – we tend to feel calmer, more centred, uplifted, understood, relieved, restored, and we can take our next step on our journey with a lightness and ease.
I think you know this. But many of us are so busy, aren’t we? – with the weight of responsibility on our shoulders (from all our roles in life: Mummy, wife, employee, business owner, coach, volunteer…the list goes on). And so we can lose sight of our rocks; we don’t see them, or we side-step them in the pursuit of getting things done, getting to the end of the day… getting, getting, getting…
Here’s a thought: instead of a mindset of getting, how about a mindset of being? We only have one life. Surely we don’t want to rush through it, and instead enjoy and be happy in it? Here’s a little gem I found that endorses this perspective, and might make you stop in your tracks and recalibrate. A study done by a behavioural economist at the Univerity of London found that an increase in the frequency of social interaction – such as with friends – is worth up to $172,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Wealth in happiness. Or ‘wellth’ as Jason Wachob coined.
We’ve all heard the old adage “money doesn’t buy happiness”. Sure, it helps; I won’t lie. But more than anything, it’s friends who enhance our happiness and wellbeing.
So my challenge to you today is to think of all your friends and identify your most stable rocks. Who are they? Where are they? Then, to commit to this: find them, recognise them when they cross your path, land on them, lean on them. And then leap off and move forward with your day. I promise you, your leap will be lighter, you’ll go higher, and with a happier heart.