Some people are too focused on the Work and Family spheres, and as a result they allow old friends to fall by the wayside and fail to make new friends. Sometimes they view friendship as something that was fine when they were younger, but as a luxury in adulthood because they’re so involved with work and family activities. At a certain point, however, a lack of good friends can catch up to them. Especially after a divorce, a death, personal illness, or other significant life change, the lack of true friends can be devastating. Married men are especially at risk of having few or no friends if their mates make all the friends and social plans. These men often have few friends besides their mate. Depending on their spouse for their social life makes them less interesting and vulnerable to isolation if their marriage ends for any reason.
Through the ages, philosophers have suggested that a man or a woman should be judged by the quality of their friends more than by their own deeds. The following story illustrates this adage.
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Pedro was a happily married man with few male friends. He had a great marriage, three terrific kids, and a career he loved as a high school history teacher. However, when Pedro was forty’ five, his wife suddenly became ill and died of a rare blood disease. Pedro devoted all his time after her death to being a father and working as a teacher, yet it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t interested in remarrying (at least during that first year after his wife’s death), but he longed for a greater connection with friends, the church, the community. As a result, his yoga plan focused on exploring these spheres and making a conscious effort to establish the connections previously missing from his life. The new friendships Pedro formed didn’t replace his relationship with his wife, but they provided a connection with other adults that he never realized he needed when his wife was alive. His participation in his church and in community activities renewed his sense of connection to God and to others in need. But most importantly, Pedro now had friends in his life. Pedro later went on to date, but he was a much more evolved and content man when he did.
The Friends sphere tends to create more specific challenges than some of the others, including:
Making new friends. Some people become isolated because of work or because they’ve just moved to a new city, and they have a tremendous need to make new friends; they often either make efforts in this direction and are rejected or they feel too shy to initiate friendly overtures. Many Yogis can target friend-building skills and suggest tactics that facilitate the formation of new relationships that can lead to friendships. For example, civic and community groups, activity groups, volunteer organizations, and sports are all ways to regularly meet and spend time with new people.
Broadening groups of friends. Some people have had the same friends all their lives and are anxious to meet different types of people; they have had the same friends since high school and are eager to establish meaningful relationships with a more heterogeneous group. You can do some research on the Internet and thereby gain access to groups and activities like those listed above that will help you achieve this goal.
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