This article is inspired by and dedicated to my amazing friends.
Oprah Winfrey, a woman whom I respect and admire and one of my spiritual mentors, does a column in her magazine every month titled, “What I know for sure….” Here, notable men and women share the truths that inspire and guide them on their life’s journey. Every month I read this column and ask myself, “if Oprah asked me to write, what I know for sure what would I say?” After some time I usually shrug my shoulders and give in to the possibility that after 40 years I still don’t know anything for sure. But more about that in a minute…
I’m turning 40 this year. At this point in my life I have a pretty good understanding of myself and what makes me tick. Growing up the only girl in a house full of boys was great in the fact it taught me independence, leadership and self-reliance. However, what I didn’t learn or understand very well was the importance of having girlfriends. After all, I didn’t have any sisters. I never understood the close bonding of sisters or girlfriends.
Don’t get me wrong, I always had friends, am actually very sensitive and enjoy socializing. But I always felt that I didn’t really need anyone and that girlfriends were nice to have but certainly weren’t a necessity. I didn’t need to lean on anyone and I certainly didn’t need to burden anyone with my problems. And lastly, I thought I should never, ever let anyone in on the secret that I’m not perfect. Come to think of it… maybe I was supposed to be born a boy!
I was intrigued to read an article in the New York Times about how having friends has a positive effect on your health. A study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age and the Mayo Clinic sites improved self-worth, reduced stress and better immunity all due to having good friendships.
So here’s where I tie this all together. In celebration of turning 40, I am taking a few of my closest friends along on a birthday road trip. No big blow out party for me. It’s not my style. I just wanted to spend quality time with those who are important to me. As I was sitting and thinking about this upcoming celebration it occurred to me that after 40 years I have actually figured out a few things in life that I now DO know for sure. I’ve learned a few important things about friendship and having good girlfriends. So if Oprah were to ask me today what I know for sure here’s what my answer would be:
I know for sure that friends are important. I know for sure that friends are what make life fun, joyous and worth the ride. I know for sure the quality of your relationships is more important than the specific number of friends you have. I know for sure that it is okay to lean on friends sometimes and ask for their help. I know for sure that it’s okay to show your friends your imperfections because true friends will love you anyway. I know for sure that close friends are worth having that uncomfortable conversation with. I know for sure that it’s okay for friends to disagree but never to disrespect. I know for sure that trust and loyalty are critical in a friendship. And I know for sure in order to have a good friend you need to be a good friend.
What I do know for sure is that you should surround yourself with those that make you happy, uplift you and inspire you and truly want you to be your best and often will help you get there.
Here’s a tip on evaluating your friendships. Do you come away from that friendship feeling positive, uplifted, inspired and better about yourself? Or do you come away feeling frustrated, confused, or depleted? If the first situation applies count yourself very lucky and hold onto that friendship. If the later applies then reevaluate that relationship. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad person. It just means that they may not be good for you at this very moment.
I am truly blessed to be surrounded by an amazing circle of friends. Through their friendship they make me a better person. Each of them brings a unique and special quality to my life. Each of them show me in different ways how to be a better friend. They have become the sisters I didn’t have, the teachers I needed and the family I have chosen.
And finally, what I know for sure is that if I were to never make another friend in my lifetime I would be completely content and fulfilled with the community of friends I have now.
Unless, of course, I meet Oprah.
editor: Greg Eckard
Gina DuBois is a 200 hr & 500 hr certified yoga instructor & owner of Hidden Haven Yoga Studio located in the Hudson River Valley, New York.
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