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Keeping Friendships for Life and Beyond

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Keeping Friendships for Life and Beyond

Your first friend

It was the freckled girl in pigtails who spent hours hearing about your true love without once telling you that you are talking baloney (yes you were and you know it). Endless lunch hours spent giggling because your crush looked in your direction (the fact that he was just looking for his lost pencil was not discussed); endless notes passed in class discussing his dimples, endless phone calls abusing that ‘other girl’. Ms. Pigtails was your first friend. When that crush went away with that other girl, Ms. Pigtails stayed with you.

Then, of course, there was that dorky friend, jokes so bad they made you want to cry but got you through your difficult high school years. You still remember a few of those horrible jokes and giggle, don’t you? First friend number two.

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Along the years we all have had those friends. The ones who stalk your crushes with more enthusiasm than you, roll their eyes at the exact same time you do, treat your gossip with the same seriousness that Obama brings to world affairs, turn violently abusive towards people just because you mildly dislike them and shower you with unsolicited advice to the point that you want to scream.

Along the way, we lose a few of those friends. In those moments, we miss them, we blame life and circumstances, or just tell ourselves that this is the natural way of life.

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Well, I’ve also lost a lot of friends, but I’ve found a few lasting friendships too. Here are some lessons learnt on keeping ‘your person’ –  the sugar to your cake, the fizz to your Cola.

1. Accept things, friendships change, it’s not the end

It’s easy to be two peas in a pod when you are in the same university, studying the same courses. Not so much when you get a job, get married, have kids. That’s OK. He will not always be available to go drinking with you like college days. She will not always treat your boyfriend problems as the number one priority in her life. Yes, that’s upsetting. It’s even more upsetting when you feel like they have moved on. Got married, while you remain a bachelor. Changed jobs while you remain in the same one. It’s upsetting because not only do you struggle with the fact that you have drifted apart, you also get jealous of the things they have and you don’t. How do you tell your friend that you need their attention because you are an insecure child inside? That you are also jealous of them? Well, SAY IT. Pick up the phone and tell them you miss them and want to meet!

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2. Stay a little possessive

Sounds very contradictory, doesn’t it? Yes OK, we are adults; you can’t just go fight with her because she went shopping with some other friend. But what if for once you did? What if sometimes you just act like a freckled pig-tailed pigheaded little child who demands time. Who calls for an emergency drinking session because the boss has been particularly nasty that day. Who wants undivided attention while lamenting on a haircut gone wrong. Who refuses to share that friend for a few hours – no family, no work, no nothing! Immaturity and possessiveness don’t always kill a relationship; sometimes, in little quantities, they just make it warmer, sweeter, snugglier (Yes, I know that’s not a word!).

Your demanding to be priority number one for an evening won’t turn the world upside down. So do it, demand a little time for just the two of you and let your friend try to suppress their exasperated chuckles while clearing their schedule to accommodate you.

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3. Have a common ground

It may have been years since you connected over a shared passion – hatred for the same teacher, love for the same girl, lack of comprehension of the same subject. As you go on your different life paths, let something hold you together. It could be a common hobby – music, travel, dance, yoga. And, if you are like me, it would probably be something inane and stupid – love for chocolate fudge, hate for Ms. Perfect with the perfect Facebook pictures. It doesn’t really matter; what matters is to keep it alive. So take out time to spend a few hours connecting on shared passions in your adult life. Meet on the day you are ‘officially’ on a break from dieting (as opposed to unofficially, which is every day) and make obscene sounds of ecstasy over that shared ice cream sundae. After all, no one really understands an ice cream sundae the way our ‘also on a diet’ friends do.

4. Don’t get caught up in ‘the plan’

You know, the plan to meet at that chic club has been in the making for three months. Trust me; it may just be easier to make a baby than follow through on that  ‘plan’. It’s not college anymore where no one has a life so everyone shows up. Real life is cluttered with a million things to do, so don’t clutter it up further with elaborate plans. Just catch up. At that little shoe-box café right outside work, at each other’s untidy homes where kids are wailing, or at that particularly dull park with the ghostly tree. Just meet wherever you can to talk and laugh. Every friendship reaches a point where sometimes the best thing to do is to just be together.

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So that’s my unsolicited advice. I hope I’m able to follow it as well. I can just about imagine myself sitting next to my friends when I’m 80 badmouthing our Facebook connections. Now that would have been a life well-lived!

With that, I sign off. And dial that number already!

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

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15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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