– 22: The Power of Friendship: Cultivating a Healthy, Happy and Meaningful Life with Shasta Nelson

Today my guest is Shasta Nelson.
Shasta Nelson is a life coach and CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com (the only online community that matches new friends offline by connecting women to other local women seeking friendship in 35 cities across the US). Shasta is the author of the book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends. As a former preacher, she still brings her spirited and soulful voice to every presentation and anyplace else where people are seeking healthier and more meaningful relationships.
In today’s episode, Shasta and I spoke about:

How friendship can change the world
Friendships as another outlet for intimacy
The indicators of a strong friendship
The advantages and challenges with distance friendships
Friendships in business

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Chantal Pierrat: Hello, and welcome, Shasta!

Shasta Nelson: Thank you so much! Happy to be here.

CP: I’m happy to have you. I’m just remembering the last time we were on a call. I think it was a couple of weeks ago. I felt like within five minutes that I was talking to somebody who was very soon going to become my best friend. I don’t know how you do it, but we just kept going. And even now, before the podcast, with our few minutes, I felt like I wanted to continue that conversation.

SN: Oh, I would love it!

CP: Yes, you just have a natural knack for friendship that I appreciate.

SN: Well, thank you. I think highly of you, too, because it takes two to connect and be present and show up.

CP: Right. Well, this is a subject that’s so important to me and near and dear to my heart. And when I was preparing for this, one of the things [I saw] on your website that really struck me was your tagline. It says, “I have a theory that friendship can save the world.” Maybe you can start and just tell us what you mean by that.

SN: Yes. I look around at—well, I come from a very religious background. I used to be a pastor. And in that world, we seek a lot of spiritual practices and going to church and reading the Bible. And then, of course, being here in San Francisco, it’s a lot more ashrams and yoga and so many different spiritual traditions that are just so rich and beautiful.

And one of the things I think about when I am every guiding anyone through anything or watching them do that is, “To what purpose are we doing that for?” In the Christian tradition, we always say that it is because we want to become more loving or more like God. In other traditions, we might use different words, but it’s really to become more enlightened and to become more at peace and to be more in love and to recognize our connections to each other.

And so when you are doing all these practices, it’s really for the purpose of engaging with each other and seeing each other and the value of each other, and recognizing the spark of God and the image of God in each other. So in my opinion, the friendships are where—that’s the gymnasium, that’s where we actually practice, that’s where we actually get to practice doing what we’re trying to become.

So for me, I challenge people. I don’t care if you’re praying all day; if it’s not making you a more loving person, I question what the point of that prayer is. And I question whether it’s working in your life. It’s really our friendships that we actually are—yes, I would call it the gymnasium. It’s the gymnasium for our soul. It’s the place where we get to practice forgiveness. It’s one thing to talk about it, [but] that’s where we get to practice doing it with people we’re in relationship with. That’s where I get to practice cheering for women. Even if I’m jealous of them and they have things I want, that’s where I get to practice compassion with the people who might make choices different than what I think is the right choice for them.

So it’s really in our friendships that we have the opportunity to practice being the peop…