Running in circles

Photo courtesy of Mark Antonioli on Unsplash

It’s likely that the idiom “running in circles” has a negative connotation for you. It’s typically used in the context of being busy doing something without making much progress or achieving a finished state.

My use in this post, though, is quite different and can have a positive impact on your life.

The real question is this: In how many real-life social circles do you play a part?

I was recently reminded of the importance of being socially involved when my aunt’s last letter arrived.

She wrote that she has an overweight friend with diabetes who had been encouraged to attend a six-week diabetic workshop. The friend was reluctant to join a new group where she wouldn’t know anyone. My aunt (about 5’9”, 130 pounds, and not diabetic) joined the workshop and is taking the friend with her. And Auntie is doing the assigned homework each week!

Sometimes we’re too tired from working and commuting to join anything. Or we may think, “They (the knitting group, book club, loose assembly of folks who bowl together, whatever) have been together for a while and I likely wouldn’t fit in.”

Please take a chance; you may be just what that group needs. A variety of experiences and people can really round out our lives.

We tend to have a network of friends who are similar to ourselves. This propensity has the scientific name of homophily. Remember the old phrase birds of a feather stick together? Yep, it’s true.

Homophily is defined as the tendency of individuals to associate with and bond with people similar to themselves. We surround ourselves with people who confirm (rather than challenge) our ideas and beliefs.

Think for a moment about your own circles, both real and online. If you’re on Facebook, (not counting family members) how many of your friends are similar to you in age and character?

In the past year I’ve added another layer of friends who are 10-15 years younger than I am. They have enriched my life. It’s good to broaden our scope, cast our nets on the other side of the boat, Biblically speaking, to find new friends.

I realize I have the extreme good fortune to live in an area where there is ample opportunity for me to participate in a nice variety of circles. With my business I meet interesting people as clients, students, and fellow Chamber of Commerce members. Through volunteer work I’ve come across amazing people. Getting involved with committees and teaching at church has helped me develop a broader understanding of some individuals. Even from walking the dog, I have a loose network of people I see a couple times a week with whom I’ve bonded.

Step outside your own established circle a bit if you’re able. You may be just the person someone else needs.


Interesting study on social connectedness