Dinner with Friends

A group of friends having dinner together.

The New Year's Resolution That Mattered

Last year, as I planned my 2014 New Year’s resolutions, I thought about ways to exercise more and eat better—the usual, declared many Januarys past. But after years of focus, my exercise and eating habits are pretty solid, and making the same resolutions wasn’t meaningful.

I needed something more, and examined my lifestyle closely. What would be good for me? What was missing from my days? What area of my life could use a little attention?

What would truly enrich and improve the big picture of my life?

My friends. I am blessed to have so many, but between work and family obligations, I wasn’t very good at building in friend time. I found it easier to seek the seclusion of a quiet Friday night at home after a busy week. Yet I knew, when I went out with my friends, I always had a great time and wondered why we didn’t get together more often.

Study after study shows social connections pay off in good health. Friends, I realized, could help me thrive in ways no annual exercise or diet plan could.

So I made it my 2014 New Year’s resolution to gather with those I cherished, but didn’t see often enough. I enlisted my husband and together we made a list of couples, and each month we asked one to join us for dinner.

We diligently found opportunities to spend time together throughout the year with old friends, past and current neighbors, college pals and others we wanted to get to know better.

Coordinating busy schedules was a challenge certain months, but it was always worth it. A “quick dinner” would turn into nearly six hours together—but even that amount of time didn’t seem like enough to catch up on each other’s lives as we learned about health issues and career changes, heard stories about kids, discovered things we never knew, recalled great memories and just talked and talked and talked. Certain conversations brought tears to my eyes. Other times I laughed so hard.

Each time we parted, we all agreed to not let so much time pass again.

Nurturing my friendships has been immensely rewarding—in fact it’s been the best New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made. Being with friends put my personal issues in perspective and relieved stress. Our time together made me feel accepted and valued, refreshed, joyful and thankful.

My commitment to my friendships continues this year—we already have “second dates” planned. And, I see that other relationships could use some attention, too. I can build my career by networking with business contacts. Spend special time with my girlfriends. Go on a monthly date night with my husband. Visit my family more often. Make new friends. Strive to be a true friend.

And this resolution, truly worth repeating, has helped me realize it’s really people, and not all the busyness filling our days, that make life so special.

– Shari Gasper