Bring your Heart to the Holidays!

The holidays conjure up all kinds of thoughts and feelings, usually ones that are close to our hearts. Some people fondly recall holidays and holiday traditions celebrated growing up while others would just as soon forget. In friendship perhaps we can find the place where we can be true to ourselves, no matter how we choose to celebrate, or not, the holidays.

For many of us friends are like family. Sometimes they are our family, especially for those living far from their families. With friends we can co-create new holiday celebrations and traditions. These celebrations can be imbued with traditions friends want to share with each other and honour from their own families. At this time of year, we have an opportunity to share our personal beliefs, values, and lifestyle choices with each other through various rituals of celebration.

“Peace is the understanding that though we are each one different, we are all made of the same exquisite stuff.” ~ Leigh Standley

The winter holidays and New Years are wonderful occasions to connect with new and old friends by sending greeting cards far and wide. If you do send out cards, it can be fun to include a letter sharing the story of your year, especially for those friends you do not get to see very often. And, of course, pictures or picture cards are great too! Include ones of yourself for those friends you get to see every few years.

Another way to celebrate the winter holidays is to get together with friends and do or make things — cookies, truffles, decorations or meals. Perhaps you all give collectively to a charity. Or maybe you volunteer together. Whatever you choose to do, doing it with your friends can certainly grow your sense of connection, joy, love, beauty and pleasure of this time of year.

The holidays are often an emotional and painful time for those who have had personal losses. Just being there for friends can be a tremendous support as they make sense of what this time of year now means to them. If a friend has recently experienced a loss, some ways you can support them through the holidays are to: respect how they choose to move through the holidays, listen to their feelings, help them create a ritual to honour the memory of their loved one, or make a donation in the memory of their loved one. Sometimes just making a call or writing a note to say you remember can mean so much.

“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they do when they stick together.” ~ Verna M. Kelly

One thing we suggest for all occasions is that it can be helpful to be clear about your expectations of your friends, especially around the holidays. Let them know what you need or want. And get curious, find out about their expectations. Clarity increases the chance that you and your friends will truly enjoy the holidays together!

At this special time of year we can demonstrate, in many ways and through many gestures, that we are keeping our friends close, in our hearts.

As you set out to celebrate the holidays, consider:

  • How can you bring genuineness and authenticity to your holiday celebrations?
  • What do the holidays mean to you now? To your friends? Friendships?
  • How do you stay connected to your friends during the holidays?
  • Do you have holiday traditions you honour with your friends? Are there any new traditions you want to create with a friend(s)?

Copyrighted 2013: The Smart Art of Friendship- Ruth Tamari and Amy Greenleaf Brassert

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The Smart Art of Friendship: The Gift of Play

“You can discover more about a person from one hour of play than a year of conversation.” ~ Plato

Why is playfulness important in friendship? And what is it anyway?

Playfulness is made up of many elements. It is, in part, about bringing lightness, fun and humor to every kind of experience. It is also about being curious and open. A child-like quality, playfulness includes the ability to laugh at ourselves, not take ourselves or what we do too seriously, which can be challenging! Playfulness allows for flexibility, spontaneity and creativity in our friendships.

Think about the energy you feel when you laugh and play with a friend, about how it feels to let go and let loose. Think about the last time you belly-laughed with a friend, what were you doing? Who were you with?

Playfulness is one of the seven key qualities of healthy friendships and relationships. Playing together and being playful strengthens our friendships. When we play, we get to know each other better and in new, sometimes interesting, ways! Engaging in playful interactions with our friends acts as an investment in the “friendship bank”. It creates memories, stories, and history to draw upon when there is less energy available for our friendship(s).

When we experience stress or have to navigate difficult times in our lives, play can be a wonderful and healthy distraction. This is a unique aspect to friendship; our friends are those people in our lives with whom we can play, relax, and remove ourselves from our worries and stresses. Play also increases our capacity to consider different perspectives which helps us face stressful situations.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” ~ Diane Ackerman

Playfulness and play come in many forms.
Here are just a few ways we can play together:

  • Cooperative play — building something together, singing in harmony, planning a party with your friends, planning a trip, making a fort or  cooking together.
  • Relaxing play — spa day, restorative yoga, meeting for afternoon tea or coffee.
  • Creative play — creating art, crafts, gardening, baking or preparing for a costume or dress-up party.
  • Competitive play — team sports, sporting activities, games like scrabble, charades or bridge.
  • Physically active play — high ropes course, hooping class, rock-climbing, golfing, stand-up paddle boarding, bowling, dancing, canoeing, biking, running or hiking.
  • Mental play — taking a class, learning a new activity, playing chess, video games, book clubs or board games.
  • Passive play — watching sports, movies, concerts or lectures.
  • And there is also playing with ideas, dreams, concepts, plans and how we see ourselves.

Each of these different kinds of play has different purposes or outcomes which can include: fun, relaxation, chilling out with friends, creativity, enjoyment, pleasure, silliness, goofiness, risk-taking and “nerdiness”.

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”
~ George Bernard Shaw

Whether you are looking for new friends or to deepen existing friendships, finding ways to play and be playful is a great strategy. Engaging in fun leisure activities is a sure-fire way to attract like-minded people and potentially becoming friends or to re-connect with your GFF (Good Friend Forever) and re-establish your like-mindedness.

Questions to ponder:
What fun, playful activities have you been wanting to try or dreaming of doing (again)?
Do you have friends with whom it is easier to play, laugh or try new things?
What can you do to bring playfulness, silliness, or fun to your friendship(s)?

Sources:
The Center for RIght Relationship
Quotes on play from: http://www.thestrong.org/about-play/play-quotes http://myplayfullife.com/playful_links/quotes.html

Copyrighted 2013 – The Smart Art of Friendship- Ruth Tamari and Amy Greenleaf Brassert