Adults: How to Have a Good Social Life

A lot of what plagues us now is that we have to consciously recreate conditions that served us well in the past. The trick I have found for staying thin is to basically simulate a neolithic food environment: 2 days a week I starve myself. This simulates the feasts of a kill and the famine of having to go gathering on other days, a bit like what our ancestors may have had to go through in the past. It is not a natural thing to do, and you have to train yourself before it seems normal. It’s necessary because the only people in our society who stay thin are those that find a reliable way to limit their food intake.

What if another form of abundance is also causing problems for us westerners? Do we have to many friends? In the past before trains, most people never went more than 14 miles from their homes. Now many of us move away from home to go to university. We make friends for life, and our technology means that we are never more than a few keystrokes from our nearest and dearest, regardless of where they live.

Perhaps the trick for staying mentally healthy in this hyperconnected world is to think about social fasting: As with anything in life it is about being realistic, knowing what you want and then prioritizing: Batch, don’t bother trying to juggle life and friends.

Try thinking about your friendships in terms of fondness AND proximity. There are people you really like but they are miles away. There are people you like a little who are close by. Hang with the local people as often as they will allow.

Make a point to let your good friends who live away know when you will be traveling to where they are as soon as you know you will be making the trip. That way, they will change their plans so you can meet up. Consider skipping foreign holidays to go stay with friends for an extended period of time.

A good proxy of happiness is having friends over for dinner several times a month: That can only happen if you cultivate local adult friendships, which is a skill.

I am helping a mate who lives up the road petition the council to get his road’s speed limit reduced. And I never fail to invite him out mountain biking. Basically find out what people near by are interested in and help them get it.

A big mistake I think I made for a long time was over sentimentalising my early friendships. That didn’t allow me or them to grow as people. It priverlaged friends I happened to make at a point in my past over the people I am meeting now.

My wife now even say’s to me: ‘we don’t have anything on this weekend, do you want to set up a mountain bike ride’.  Hayley lets me get out the house. I don’t waste time trying and failing to get my city mates to come out. Nor do I do activities that aren’t popular locally. Mountain biking is big here so when we moved I learned to love doing that. If I lived at the coast I would surf.

University wasn’t fun because everyone we had met up untill that point was there. It was fun because that was a time in our lives when we were up for mixing in. Rather than clinging to the past and limply liking old friends Facebook posts, why not cultivate new relationships?

The trap is:

I can’t do much about how I feel about my old friends. I like them a lot.

The trick is:

I can control how much distance there is between me and my friends in only two ways: I can travel to go see them or make new friends who are close by. If a friend doesn’t live close and you wouldn’t feel comfortable staying at their house for a week, perhaps you can skip time with them to make ‘mates’ near by.

If you do I bet you are 12 months away from the happiest years of your life.