What could be more enjoyable than having a walk or a meal or a drink with a friend? And yet so many of us, particularly in this era of email and texting and social media, spend many of our waking hours alone. Why do we need to see our friends in real life if we see them on our screens 24/7?

Because we do. Not only because it’s enjoyable, but because in-person social interaction is as crucial to keeping our brains sharp as keeping fit and eating well. Marcel Proust said it best: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Before science proved the benefits of friendship and social interaction, Proust knew: without friends, we––and our brains––wither on the vine.

Your assignment today is straightforward and seemingly simple, though perhaps you’re out of the habit. Reach out to a friend. Pick up the phone. Send a text or an email, if you must, but please make an actual date to meet up with your special someone in person. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Go for a stroll. Sit in a park. Share a meal. Visit a museum. Whatever activity you and your friend enjoy doing, do it together.