The Power of Friendship

Let’s start the new year off on a positive note by talking about friendship.
As we made the rounds of holiday parties this season, we felt blessed by the people in our lives; enriched by the friendships that make life worth living.

These are the people who make the stresses of daily life melt away and renew your faith in humanity.
I’ve mentioned before that I have  several groups of friends who meet for breakfast, lunch and the occasional happy hour and dinner.
Some know each other. Some don’t.
But all of them have something in common: they tend to care about the world, they tend to be involved in the community and they tend to be smart with sharp senses of humor.
In short, good people.
Really good people.
The older I get, I find myself valuing my friends more and more.
I also find I have less tolerance for toxic people.
Over the holiday break, I listened to a  TED Talk by the director of a Harvard study on male happiness.
The study has tracked a group of men from childhood into their 90s. The cohort includes people from all walks of life, including a U.S. president (whom the speaker did not name).
The happiest and healthiest people were those who made and kept good friends and those who felt connected to a community.
Not only were they happier and healthier, but they handled adversity better including tolerance of physical pain.
It’s an interesting study and very validating.
As we launch into yet another election cycle with candidates slinging shots at each other, each other’s supporters and even the cities they seek to lead (Delray is too this, Boca is too that) it would be nice if we added some gratitude to the mix.
No, we are not perfect. But we sure have a lot to be proud of and a lot to be thankful for.

I plan to support the candidates who get this very fundamental idea. And those who seek to unite: not incite and divide.
I do look at who is supporting who because I tend to support the judgment of my friends—especially in a non partisan election. And thank goodness local government is non partisan. We’ve seen what hyper partisanship has done to our country. Let’s make sure that does not happen here.
Because not much gets done when it does. And whatever gets done gets undone when the other side takes over and in time they always do.

There’s a term we will hear more and more in the New Year. It’s called hyper localism. It refers to the notion that the action is devolving to the local level where collaboration is possible and where solutions are often achieved.

So give me candidates who want to grow the tent, not shut people off. Give me candidates who listen to their neighbors and work side by side with those who roll up their sleeves.
Give me people who understand that community is about relationships and friendship. Those who understand that a key role of a leader is to grow those relationships and that sense of community.

That’s what makes a happy community. And friends, a happy community is a productive community. An unhappy community gets stuck, defensive and lost.

As I made my way around the holiday parties I ran into contributors who served this town and gave so much of themselves to this place we call home.
The architect who has served on countless boards and saved historic homes. The former mayors who never went away and went on to lead non profits and community groups. The retired city staff who still care and formed a team that created a very vibrant place. The business leaders and young entrepreneurs who invest, build, create and dream. Really good people.
Special people.
The people who make us happy.

I’ll end with a tribute to old friends too. Those from childhood that I was also able to connect with over the break.
One visited from Wisconsin. We’ve known each other since we were five. It’s amazing. We connect instantly despite the distance. Despite the years. Despite the separate lives.
I also spoke to two old friends: one from Virginia and one who lives in California. We all grew up together, spent our summers chasing tennis balls and girls, listening to music and exploring New York City.
I miss these guys but the years melt away and the friendship renews with each call. It’s like we are meant to be lifelong friends, these connections made as kids follow us into middle age.
I hope you have friends and find friends in 2018. We will live longer, happier and healthier lives if we do. We will also create a happier, kinder and safer world.


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