THE BLOG
02/24/2016 12:31 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2017

The Benefits of Staying Connected (or Re-Connecting) With Old Friends & Family Members

People have always been important to me. In other words, I am the type of person who truly, deeply cares about others. And I don't fake it. But, even though I care, I have to admit that I sometimes lose touch with people. My reasons for this are probably the same as everyone else's. You grow up, you move, and you meet new people. In short, life happens.

But why does this mean that we need to lose touch with people? It was more understandable 15-plus years ago when we didn't have things like Facebook, Skype, texting, or email, to make it easy to stay in touch. On the other hand, sometimes these things also give us an excuse NOT to reach out. For example, you might think, "I know exactly what's going on in my high school classmates' lives because I see them on Facebook every day!" But do you REALLY know? Or do you just THINK you know?

And what about your extended family? I come from a family where my Mom is the oldest of 7 children. Therefore, I have a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Considering how large our family is, we do a pretty good job at staying in touch. Every Thanksgiving and 4th of July are "our" holidays. But I see the next generation not connecting like we all do - mostly because they all live so far away. And this is sad to me.

This year represents some milestones in my life - not only for me, but for my family as well. For example, my Mom will turn 80 in September, and I will also have my 30-year high school reunion. As I just typed that, I am in disbelief. How did THAT happen? How do I have a mother who is almost 80, and how am I out of high school almost 30 years? I'm sure most of you reading this can relate. Even if you haven't hit middle-age yet, you probably know that life goes way too fast.

My sisters and I are planning a big family party for my Mom's 80th. It will actually be a weekend-long event at my sister's large lake house, but we are terrible at party planning, so we had to research everything from sleeping alternatives for older people with bad backs to how to keep people of all ages entertained. I'm really looking forward to it for some reasons that I will discuss below.

And then you have the high school reunion. Some people love them, and some people don't. But as much as we think we know what's going on with our old friends, there's nothing like seeing them face-to-face and giving them a big hug! Technology will never fully replace the impact of human interaction in person. That's why I plan to go to my reunion.

So, here are some more reasons I think you should re-connect with family members and old friends:

1. Learn lessons from your elders & hear family stories.

I always love hearing stories from older people, and it's even better when it's from your own family. Whether it's a story about how they survived starvation in the Depression or it's just a funny story about how they tortured their siblings, it's fun to hear. It's even better when you write them down so people will remember them for years to come.

2. Pass down lessons to the next generation.

I am a teacher by nature, and so it's not surprising that one of my favorite things about being a mother is teaching my children life lessons. And if you enjoy the same thing, you don't have to limit passing down wisdom to just your children. If you re-connect with your family and long-lost friends, you will have even more young people to influence in a positive manner.

3. Re-live your childhood.

Like I said earlier, Facebook is great. Yes, we can "see" people's lives every day. But how often do you actually talk to old friends? While it's fun when a grade school friend tags you in an old picture from Halloween in 5th grade, it's not the same as getting together with those people and re-living those stories.

4. See how your childhood friends' lives turned out.

Again, I think social media has lulled us into thinking we know everything about everyone these days. Not that I have anything against social media. I think it's awesome, as long as we use it properly and don't have it replace real, human contact. So, personally connecting with someone outside of social media will give you the real picture of how someone's life turned out.

5. Build or strengthen a support network.

Humans are social creatures. But if we find ourselves wandering off too far apart from each other, then our support network is threatened. And let's face it - we all go through challenging times in our lives when we need to lean on other people for love and assistance. So when you reach out and continually re-build your relationships, you simultaneously grow your support.

6. Create new friendships.

Just today, I had a friend email me (and cc'd another friend of hers) and said that the two of us should meet each other. She said we both have a lot in common both personally and professionally. So you never know who else you might meet through re-connecting with family and old friends!

Hopefully I've helped you examine your social behaviors, as well as the reasons you do (or don't) reach out more to people. So now go call an old friend today!