How would you describe a good friend? Someone who has your back? Someone who accepts you for who you are? Someone who encourages you to achieve your goals?
So why talk about meaningful friendships? Why is friendship so important? Because good friends enrich your life and improve your health. Study after study has shown that friends increase your sense of belonging and purpose, help us deal with stress, to make better lifestyle choices, AND solid friendships have been proven to help promote mental health. Loneliness has physical consequences like poor cardiovascular and immune health, especially in old age. And here’s the thing – loneliness is difficult to address in one’s later years, so creating a strong community for yourself early on is key in living a meaningful life.
So how do we make friends as adults? It’s not as easy as when we were younger – they don’t happen automatically anymore. They require intention, time and effort.
First of all, decide what kind of qualities are important to you in being the best kind of friend to others? Is it Honesty, respectfulness, trustworthiness, acceptance, low-maintenance, loyal? Think about what your list looks like.
And then, begin by taking the initiative. Research local interest groups where you could plug in, introduce yourself to others at your gym class or to the parents of your kids friends, or invite a neighbor or co-worker to hang out.
Spend the time to get to know someone, affirm who they are by showing enthusiasm about their interests or sincerely complimenting them on something you admire. Offer them a safe place to talk and be themselves. Be consistent and reliable so that the connection solidifies, comment on their social media posts, check in on them. Continue reaching out within social boundaries.
Making friends when we were kids seemed so effortless. Now that we are adults, it can hard work. The potential fear of rejection puts us in a vulnerable position, but initiating contact and building relationships with others is also necessary for living a life with meaning.
So go out there and be intentional, be sincere and be the friend you want to have.
October 24, 2020 Meaningful Moment