Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

PUTTING fam­ily aside, we take for granted the peo­ple who come and go in our life. The peo­ple who shape who we are through­out the jour­ney of our life, the peo­ple we care about, the peo­ple who are part of our daily ex­pe­ri­ences – at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket, the doc­tor’s surgery, the newsagency or ser­vice sta­tion.

Each day these fa­mil­iar faces are peo­ple who are part of our life. Then there are those friends and neigh­bours who con­trib­ute to our health in a way that we have never re­ally thought about. We sit with them and con­fide about our ailments, our fam­ily prob­lems. We share our most in­ti­mate sto­ries with them, they know us bet­ter than we know our­selves. Some friends give ad­vice, oth­ers just lis­ten.

I re­cently read an ar­ti­cle about vi­ta­min F and was in­trigued to read more be­cause I had not heard of this “new vi­ta­min”. Think­ing that it was some­thing I could buy off the shelf – but this is a dif­fer­ent kind of vi­ta­min. A vi­ta­min that grows over the years, and a vi­ta­min that comes in dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes.

That vi­ta­min F is known as Friends. Which made me think about my cir­cle of friends – and why they are all so dif­fer­ent in char­ac­ter? How can I get along with all of them? When I thought about it I re­alised that they all bring out a dif­fer­ent part of me. Their dif­fer­ences are what makes me want to learn more about them.

With some I have busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions, with oth­ers we share a joke, laugh a lot and rem­i­nisce about the past. Oth­ers I eat out with, and then there are those friends whom I lis­ten to and em­pathise with their wor­ries. Then there are just one or two whom I seek ad­vice from. It is a jig­saw puz­zle of friends, who all fit to­gether to form the per­fect pic­ture in my life.

This made me view the Gold Coast as a gi­ant jig­saw and how we could strengthen our friend­ships to en­hance the vi­ta­min F in all of us.

How amaz­ing it would be if we had a so­ci­ety that was like a gi­ant jig­saw. We are all dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes, dif­fer­ent cul­tural back­grounds, liv­ing in dif­fer­ent styles of ac­com­mo­da­tion – all 600,000 of us across 50km. Imag­ine if some­how a friend­ship of some sort con­nected us – through ver­i­ta­ble bonds of friend­ship.

As Helen Keller once said: “Walk­ing with a friend in the dark is bet­ter than walk­ing alone in the light”. We are not put on this earth to be alone.

While many might laugh at the no­tion of vi­ta­min F – there are many in the health in­dus­try who would sup­port the no­tion that vi­ta­min F is es­sen­tial to our well-be­ing.

Re­search shows that peo­ple in strong so­cial cir­cles live longer as the so­cial con­nec­tions have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on our well-be­ing in­clud­ing re­duc­ing stress, al­le­vi­at­ing de­pres­sion and ex­tend­ing our life.

Our so­cial con­nec­tions can have a huge im­pact on our men­tal well-be­ing and our abil­ity to sur­vive ma­jor chal­lenges. Whereas isolation and loneliness are a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in trig­ger­ing anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

The give and take in a friend­ship is an im­por­tant el­e­ment in its plea­sure. Peo­ple en­joy do­ing some­thing for some­one they like and the rec­i­proc­ity that ex­ists in a re­la­tion­ship seems to be an im­por­tant part of sus­tain­ing it.

It is through true friend­ship that we are en­dowed with the great op­por­tu­nity to grow into who we might be, and by sur­round­ing our­selves with peo­ple who nour­ish not only our minds, but our hearts and our spir­its, we can walk this planet in greater truth. The com­pas­sion we re­ceive un­con­di­tion­ally from a friend is a call for us to be for­giv­ing of our own mis­takes, and to stay true to our in­ner­most call­ings.

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