I don’t know if you have heard of the book named ‘Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ by author Bronnie Ware. According to Bronnie Ware and based on his systematic research, there are five most common regrets shared by people who are nearing death. And those 5 regrets are the following.
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
Now if you read the point no. 4, it is pretty clear that ‘not being in touch with your friends’ is one of the biggest regrets in people’s lives. And sadly, many people realize this when they are on their death beds. Imagine living your life for 70-80 years and when your about to die, you regret not being in touch with your friends?
When you think of this now, you might already feel that it should not be so hard to do this, right? Unfortunately, we make this hard by making the biggest mistake – ‘Taking friendships for granted’. Somehow we forget that we need to ‘cultivate’ our friendships (Old cliché saying but so meaningful.) I too keep making the same mistake. But somehow I have found few tips and tricks which kind of helps me avoid this more frequently. Let me share these with you.
You don’t really need ‘time’ to remain in touch
We normally tend to imagine our day schedule in advance. You have woken up on Monday morning and you have already visualized your entire day while sitting on your toilet seat. Ever imagined why we do this? Because we prioritize things which we want to finish first, which by not doing will create a ‘negative emotion’. However, by not being in touch with your friends is somehow not creating that negative emotion in your mind. This we need to learn at first. When you think of it, ‘remaining in touch’ itself doesn’t sound tough or time consuming. When you are attending a boring conference call at 3 PM on Wednesday afternoon, somewhere your school friend is preparing a sad PowerPoint presentation or your childhood friend is treating an annoying old uncle at his clinic. Everyone is busy. Period. There is no exception. If we are somehow able to remove the ‘busy’ tag from ourselves and strike a 2 minute conversation, your objective is achieved !
Share a Photo Memory
If you have switched on the ‘Memories’ feature on your Apple Photos or Google Photos, it will pop up the best memories along with your friend. Simply share a photo from your old memories with a small caption. He or she may not see it immediately, but when they’ve closed their laptop and finally done for the day; laying on the sofa and viewing this memory will bring a big smile on their face. And believe me, this is enough to strike a chord. Again, objective achieved !
Never start a conversation with ‘How are you?’, ‘What’s up?’ or ‘How have you been?’
I mentioned about ‘striking a chord’ just now. These above mentioned questions will delay striking a chord with your friend. It brings unnecessary formality in your conversation and in most of the times the conversation will turn into the common topics like ‘busy schedule’, ‘current pandemic situation’ or the ‘boring routine’. Nobody is interested in this anymore and talking about this makes you feel worse about it. If you have time and have decided to talk to your old friend, better have a meaningful conversation and avoid these negative topics at the start. If your friend specifically wants you to listen to any of these topics then it’s a different story. But otherwise, start a conversation with a funny one liner instead, and surprise him or her with it. Remember, you are calling them after a long time, this better be on a positive note.
Identify favorite topics of your friends
I have different WhatsApp groups on my phone. One has my school friends, the other has friends from college. Another group of my childhood buddies, and one more consisting of my MBA friends, and so on. I am sure you have similar groups on your WhatsApp too. Many of the times you will observe that these groups are silent or inactive. They only become active when it is someone’s birthday. There is always one person in the group who is trying to keep the group alive though. If you are not one of them, here is a simple trick. Identify the topics which are the most favorites of that group. It could be cheap Bollywood movies or an old forgotten crush of someone in the group. Simply start a conversation with couple of lines and just watch the fun. All the members suddenly become active and then the amusement begins! Just keep adding one or two lines in between (in case you are busy with something important) and let the conversation flow naturally. You have achieved your goal or being in touch with a group of friends after a long time !
Set aside your ego
This is particularly applicable for those who are not calling your old friend because of reasons like ‘I am the one who keeps calling her and she doesn’t bother to call me back’. Or ‘Why should I always take the initiative to be in touch? She has not even responded to my last 3 WhatsApp messages’. Our entire life is wasted in this unwanted ego. You may feel that it is ‘Self Respect’ and not ego. But think deep and you will realize that it is your ego and nothing else. Just imagine, if you did not pick up your mom’s call since 2 days, will she think in this way? If your sister did not respond to your texts, will you think twice before calling her? Then why such questions arise when it comes to friends. The relation in friendship is as pure as blood relations. And hence you should literally have zero ego with your friends. I have seen cases in my friend circle where two people haven’t spoken to each other for years just because of these exact reasons. You can either have your ego or you can have your friend. You have to choose one.
If you have already crossed your mid-twenties then you will have to realize that being in touch with friends is no more ‘obvious’ for you. You have to take efforts. But luckily with these small tricks (and many more which you might have), these efforts don’t seem so hard. So promise yourself, when you are lying on your death bed when you are old, you will say with a smile, “I’m glad I could remain in touch with all my friends”.
Any more tips to remain in touch with your friends? I will be glad to hear them from you. Thank you.