A Surprise Call from an Old Friend

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I had a lovely surprise yesterday in combination with a really weird coincidence.  I have an old friend, as in one that I have known for a long time, although admittedly, he is getting on a bit.  I met him at church when I was at University in Leeds in the early 1980’s and up until the last few years, I have kept in touch with him and seen him reasonably regularly.  But since moving up here to Northumberland, I have sort of lost touch.  We send Christmas cards, and he visited us once about 5 years ago, but other than that we haven’t really had much contact with him, much to my shame.

However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling that I should contact him and get him to visit us.  As it happens, I am on business in Leeds next week, and am staying over for the night in a hotel not that far away from where my friend lives.  So I decided I would ring him and see if he was available to go for a meal and catch up.

The thing is, and this is what is really weird, I was going to ring him last night, but he rang me before I actually got round to it.  I haven’t spoken to him for years, and he rings me on the same evening I was going to ring him – how about that for a strange coincidence!

But wait, it gets even stranger…..

The reason he rang was because at his church in Leeds the day before he’d had the opportunity to talk with a visitor who was just moving into Leeds to start a new job.  It turns out that this visitor had previously been in the youth group at our church in Morpeth when I was leader a number of years ago.

So my friend rang me to tell me that he had met someone who knew me. I know it can be a bit of a cliche, but sometimes it really does feel like we live in a ‘small world’.

Anyway, the good news is that my old friend is coming to visit us in Northumberland in a few weekends time.  How good is that?  It will be great to see him and catch up on what has been happening in our lives since we were last together. Life is busy for all of us and it’s so easy to lose contact with people – but isn’t it great when you get back in touch with a friend that maybe you haven’t heard from for a while?

How about you?  Do you have any old friends that you haven’t seen for a while?  Maybe you should contact them, because you never know what blessing might come with it.

Relationships rather than wealth make you happy

The New York Times recently published an Opinion article commenting on Sandra Bullock’s joy and pain over the last month, but also specifically considering the research that connects our happiness with wealth and personal relationships, the conclusions are very interesting:
“Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.

This isn’t just sermonizing. This is the age of research, so there’s data to back this up. Over the past few decades, teams of researchers have been studying happiness. Their work, which seemed flimsy at first, has developed an impressive rigor, and one of the key findings is that, just as the old sages predicted, worldly success has shallow roots while interpersonal bonds permeate through and through.

For example, the relationship between happiness and income is complicated, and after a point, tenuous. It is true that poor nations become happier as they become middle-class nations. But once the basic necessities have been achieved, future income is lightly connected to well-being…..On a personal scale, winning the lottery doesn’t seem to produce lasting gains in well-being. People aren’t happiest during the years when they are winning the most promotions. Instead, people are happy in their 20’s, dip in middle age and then, on average, hit peak happiness just after retirement at age 65.

If the relationship between money and well-being is complicated, the correspondence between personal relationships and happiness is not. The daily activities most associated with happiness are sex, socializing after work and having dinner with others. The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting. According to one study, joining a group that meets even just once a month produces the same happiness gain as doubling your income. According to another, being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year.

If you want to find a good place to live, just ask people if they trust their neighbors. Levels of social trust vary enormously, but countries with high social trust have happier people, better health, more efficient government, more economic growth, and less fear of crime (regardless of whether actual crime rates are increasing or decreasing).

The overall impression from this research is that economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, and that they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important.” (Highlights by me)

Read the full article here.

(HT: Adrian Warnock)

Singing with The Steels

We had a great afternoon yesterday recording some backing music for The Steels’ new album – which a little mouse told me might be called ‘Supreme’.

Here are some pictures of the session – but there are only a few of them and they are not very good because they were taken on my iPhone:
The first three are of the vocalists – and what a motley crew we were :S  Women on one side of the hall singing into one microphone and men on the other side singing into another one.  The last two photos are of Ken Riley, lead singer and guitarist of Y-Friday, who is producing the album.
We had a great few hours – shouting, praising, and sometime singing in tune in order to give some ‘choral’ backing to a couple of tracks on the album.  The songs we were singing for sounded absolutely fabulous and I am really looking forward to the album coming out in the Spring.
If you want to know more about The Steels and their new or previous albums then check out their website here.

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