The first number that popped in my head was 30. I don't know why. I tend to go with my gut reaction on many things and gave 30 as the answer.
The best answer most people give is five or six.
Maybe I have a disproportional share of friends who are clergy. Maybe it is because I am 48 and am truly blessed with amazing people in my life and have had many great shared experiences.
So far this year, I have made wonderful new friends, reconnected with childhood friends, college friends, and friends-of-friends... and it continues.
The benefits of a strong social support network are many and creating and maintaining those relationships is important work. For me, it is absolutely essential to my well being. Friends in my everyday life and friends I can pick up with where we left off, even if years have passed, are my treasures.
I want to challenge you to spend a little time every day nurturing those friendships with people in your life who are important to you. In today's world, it's not hard to just reach out with a text, an email, a handwritten note, a phone call, Skype, or *gasp* seeing them in person. Not only will you feel better but your friend will feel better, too.
There's so much in our society these days that perpetuates polarization, fear of the other, us vs. them, distrust... the list goes on and on... it's time to soften to all that hardness and to realize that division isn't the way to a rich and full life. It's being brave enough to open up to friendship, the courage to care for others, and to be strong enough to be willing to be cared for in return. It takes trust that others will value your friendship and who you really are as a person.
Once you allow yourself to be open and truly feel with your heart, a wonderful energy is born that is larger and more powerful than the people who have generated it.
"Here's the deal: Love (or worth, or value, or esteem, or forgiveness, or reconciliation, or meaning) is not something you produce or achieve or acquire.
It is not something that you even have.
Love is something that has you." ~ Terry Hershey