It’s 2018. Let’s High Five!
Aren’t you sick and tired of new year resolutions? Do you still wish that this year will be the year…? that you… get fit, make your dream come true and start that business. Finish taking the book you are writing out of your head to the computer, make that big trip. Whatever it is that we’ve desired, but have not been disciplined enough to convert into reality yet. This year, I was challenged to do something totally different. Gift to myself something that I’ve already had, but – like most of us – taken for granted.
It was drizzling in Amsterdam. My good friend Cengiz hosted me in a nice Turkish restaurant. Then, he posed this question: “Avi, who are your High Five?”
“This high-5?” I asked, and threw the palm of my hand in the air a high-5 movement. “No, Avi, who are the five friends that have your highest priority aside from your family? The ones who care for you and whom you care for. The ones who will be there for you when you retire? (and I am not asking about your thousands of social media friends).”
I felt like his High Five had hit me hard on my face. Who are my “High Five?” And you, my reader, who are your High Five?
How much of our limited free time do we devote to our “High Five”? Some cultures value friendship more than others. Where I was born, we always say that “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves” (quote attributed to author Edna Buchanon). Indeed, a good friendship is something to savour, cherish and protect, yet more often than not it’s also the one that we tend to put off and neglect the most, knowing they’ll understand. Have you ever said something like: “Good friendship is not calculative, we can meet after years and take it from there like nothing happened”? That is a lie.
“Laughter in not the best medicine – Friendship is” ~ Dr. Patch Adams
Authentic and nourishing friends are often the best medicine for our mental and emotional well-being. According to a 2004 Australian study, good friends are more likely to increase longevity than close family members. Loneliness, on the other hand, is a terminal disease. Conversely, “not maintaining friendships” is also one of the people’s biggest death-bed regrets, as Australian nurse Bronnie Ware listed in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
A meta-analytic study about social relationships and risk of mortality was published in 2010 by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a researcher at Brigham Young University. Her team reviewed 148 studies that tracked the social interactions and health of about 300,000 people over an average of 7.5 years. As you can see from the table, the top two predictors of longevity are your close relationships & the degree of your integration in social networks.
The overall effect of having great relationships corresponds with a 50% increase in odds of survival and 91% with strong social integration.
We know this intuitively that the 500th friend on Facebook is not likely to add much emotional nourishment to our lives. Research also suggests we may actually be lonelier now than ever before, despite all the hours spent on social media or typing LOL under a video we watched for all of five seconds.
In fact, a 2014 study by relationship Counsellor Relate found that 1 in 10 –nearly 5 million – people in the UK did not have a single close friend.
I have to thank Cengiz for his High Five wake-up call. Do I really have five great friends? Where did the years go by? How much happy friendship quality time was lost? Am I spending my time with those who really matter? High Five friends are valuable and human Friendship and love can be lost with negligence. Human relationships can be fragile; even evergreen flowers need water and nutrition to survive and bloom.
If there is one resolution that one can relatively easily apply to your life, it is to activate your “High Five”. So this year, let’s embrace our High Five using the High Five Delivering Delight Ladder.
If you haven’t already done so, you might want to explore these 5 points:
Who’s your High Five?
The first step to delight your High Five is to know who they really are. Pause for a minute and ask yourself. Who are the ones whose presence make you feel better? The ones that bring the best in you? Those who make you laugh? The ones how nourish you and make you feel that you can be accepted as you are? Can you trust them? Are they evergreen rain and shine friends? Will they support you in time of crisis and despair? Will they bail you out? Are they loyal?
Who are the ones who mean a lot to you, but you take for granted? Who will you regret not seeing more of when they are not around anymore?
Are you on their High Five list?
Most likely you are but are you acting like one? If you take point 1 as a reference, are you practising what you expect from your High Five? Do they feel cared for and appreciated? What would they perceive as caring?Why not set up a meeting or call them and ask?
Know your High Five:
In the model of Delivering Delight, there are five levels. Level one: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour” and level two: “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” are obvious. We do not deserve to be on someone’s High Five’s list if we hurt them or are unwilling to treat them well. However, we often assume that what we like goes for them too, especially so if we have not met our friends for a long time. They may have changed in our absence. The third level which is mandatory for every relationship is to learn what delights the other? There must be things that we both like even if we stopped playing soccer. The fourth level of delight goes beyond that. After we master level three, we kind of know how we can surprise them. How can we wow them? This does not have to be big or costly. And the fifth level of delight involves a higher level of connection. How can we both make a difference? Is there a volunteering activity that will make us bring the best of ourselves by making a contribution for a purpose we both feel strongly about?
How do we break the ice?
In his memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, American writer Mitch Albomrecounts the time spent with his 78-year-old sociology professor from uni, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and document his 14 visits to his old mentor on Tuesdays. Perhaps a good activity to consider before contacting a High Fiver is to write down all the great qualities of your friend. What makes you besties? What wonderful memories do you share? And then bring it with you (if you are emotional like me, bring some tissues) and read it to your friend. That will surely make the reunion memorable and uplifting.
What’s your game plan?
What do you need to change? After a long day at work, we may have little energy left for a catch-up session. But put it as a priority, and the rewards are immense. After all, aren’t they the VIPs in your life? Will you give priority to your High Five and add them to your schedule? What activities can you do together? How about a trip together?
Learning from Holt-Lunstad study, don’t stop just at your High Five. Ask yourself what social networks do you feel belong to and contribute to? Charity group? Interest group? Friends at work social group? Holt-Lunstad was quoted in The Guardian: “When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility to other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks.”
A word of caution! Make sure you exclude the Frenemies from your list
“With friends like these who needs enemies?”
A few people disguise themselves as our friends. They are there because of what the friendship gives them, but their impact on our lives can be neutral, negative or even toxic. When you compile your “High Five” list, consider checking that they are really your friends.
|Accept you and bring the best in you||Want to change you and project their insecurities on you|
|Unconditionally helpful, There when you need them||Giving to receive and calculative. May or may not be there when you need them|
|Accept and forgive your mistakes||Invoke guilt|
|Respect your feelings||Use humour to disguise putting you down|
|Care about you||Care about themselves|
|Authentic but tactful with feedback||Dishonest|
|Share the good and bad times||Only when they need you|
|Selfless intention||Have an agenda|
|Mostly positive, affirming, and uplifting||Mostly dump their negativities and complains on you|
|Confirm but do not conform||Fail to challenge things that can risk your long-term interest|
|Sincerely happy for you||Jealous|
|Make you feel great and boost your confidence with the truth||Pull you down and make you feel insecure|
|Play for both of you||Play for themselves only|