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Do You Have 8 Minutes? Finding the Time for Friends

By Fran Braga Meininger May 10, 2024 Family

I recently heard an interesting interview with Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, in which he talked about a study that found eight minutes with a caring friend is all it takes to significantly decrease anxiety and depression and improve mood.

The 8 Minutes’ Story

He told a story about his friend who shared with him she had recently experienced a very rough patch. Simon, who prided himself on being a good friend, demanded to know why the friend didn’t reach out so he could support her, but she insisted she had. Simon took out his phone and read a few of the friend’s last texts, inviting him for coffee, or asking if he wanted to come over. He explained those texts weren’t clear enough to convey that his friend needed him. So they made a deal that in the future when they needed each other, they would use a special code, sending the words, “Do you have eight minutes?” as a way to communicate their need for support.

He said it has changed their relationship and strengthened their bond. A short telephone conversation with a promise to follow up with a visit or some other way to connect means his friend will always feel secure he is there for her, and he will never again miss a plea for support.

Not Always Easy to Find the Time

This struck me as such an important concept. I’ve shared it with my circle of close friends, and we made the same agreement. It seems like so little time to devote to a friendship, and I always want my friends to know I am there for them.

However, I also must admit there are days that roll by when I’m thinking of a friend with whom I’ve lost contact and sincerely wish to reach out, but I just can’t find the free time for a nice, long visit – or I’m held back by reluctance to interrupt their work day or time with family. I wake up with them on my mind and vow to call or text to set up a date, but too often don’t, as the days slip away with so many other things demanding my attention.

Like most of us, I have a full life. I have intentionally filled it with activities that fulfil me and keep me active and engaged. As many other women, I enjoy a structured schedule, it suits my personality, but it sometimes lacks the opportunity for spontaneity. I try to schedule regular visits with my friends as well, but sometimes it’s not enough.

Here’s My Approach

I’ve decided to take a creative approach that may not suit everyone, but could make it possible for me to spend meaningful time with those I care about, even when my schedule is packed, when there’s no pressing need, and I just want my friend to know I’m still invested in our friendship.

Ways I will create opportunities to connect:

  • Ask my friend to meet for a quick coffee as part of my regular errands.
  • Invite myself over for a visit when plans change last minute, and I find myself free.
  • Invite my friend to join me on a walk or hike. I devote considerable time to fitness and bringing them along for a peaceful walk in the woods could also be conducive to deep communication.
  • Go shopping together, spend the private moments driving to the shops to share what’s happening in our lives. I’ve had plenty of intimate conversation in the privacy of my car sitting in a parking lot.
  • Cook together. Making soup on a rainy day or preserving fruits and vegetables during harvest is part of my everyday life. I will ask my friend to join me and send them home with something delicious.
  • Deal with the clutter together. Cleaning out closets, garages and storage units can be a wonderful way to spend time together, sharing memories and stories, while getting a dreaded task off the to do list.

I know it may seem somewhat ridiculous that I need to be so calculating and creative to sustain a relationship that matters, but for me, time seems to have sped up as I’ve aged, and I’d rather do this than lose these friendships. I hope you’ll consider your own need for connection and make a plan to satisfy it.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you connect with your friends? Do you make exclusive time for them? Do you plan it ahead of time? Is there a special way you convey you need them for support?

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The Author

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narratives about the years beyond youth, a time in a woman’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling, and wonderful, despite – or perhaps because of – all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. You can visit her website at https://www.theyearsbeyondyouth.com

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