Friendship makes us happy. It turns out, all of us no matter our lot, station or circumstance is happier with friends.
Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, dedicates an entire chapter in her book to friendship. She says we need at least one person to confide in, and a relationship network of pals where you can give and receive support. To improve her happiness, she took an entire month and focused on “strengthening old friendships and making new friends.”
How do we make good friendships?
Rubin has a simple, five-point plan to BE a good friend which will then set you up to make good friends:
- Remember birthdays. Make it easy on yourself. Facebook tracks birthdays for you, but for those friends who aren’t on Facebook, reach out to ask them for their birthday. Phone, text, email, face-to-face—whichever method is easiest for you.
- Be generous – in your own way. Rubin says: “Generous acts strengthen the bonds of friendship. Besides that, studies show that your happiness is often boosted more by providing support to other people than from receiving support yourself…Do good, feel good.”
- Show Up. Woody Allen said that “80% of success is just showing up.” Our friendships flounder if we don’t make the effort. To visit, to see each other. It is important to connect via shared joys and troublesome times. Rubin says, “Familiarity, it turns out, breeds affection.” If we keep showing up, eventually we look forward to seeing the same people. Even the ones that we don’t like!
- Don’t gossip. Any unkindness does not breed friendship. Even couched in the covering of prayer, gossip creates division between the one who is not in the room with us – who may well need our friendship now more than we know – and the people who bond together over the criticism of that person. It serves no purpose. Let’s agree not to do it.
- Make three friends. Making new friends is energizing! It opens up new vistas to worlds which we may never otherwise be exposed. Even more interesting, Rubin suggests we set a goal wherever we go to make three new friends. It may sound calculated, but it changes your viewpoint from;”Do I like you? Do I have time for you?” To “Are you someone who will be my new friend?” She reports that by doing this, she felt more open to people. It pushed her to act more friendly than she felt. Her research shows that “acting” friendly makes even introverts feel happier and lifts their mood.
The biggest takeaway
If you act friendly, others are interested in becoming your friend!
And Gretchen Rubin has a list of ways to act friendly too! We will talk about that list on our Mentor MOMents FB Live on Wednesday at 10 am! See you then!