Friendship is one of life’s biggest blessings. But having friends not only is a blessing to emotional wellness, but also our physically wellness. Researchers suggest that strong social ties supports brain health as we age, reduces stress, and improves good health and longevity.
But it’s not always easy to make new friends and maintain old ties. Here are three ways to help you create new and strengthen old friendships:
** Creating New Friendships:
No matter if you are 9 years old or 90, it can be scary making new friends. Finding people you “click” with and who understand you is one of the biggest blessings in life. Sometimes, however, the hard part is being ready and able to receive a blessing. In making new friendships it is important to be humble, open, patient, and most importantly, just be you!
It’s easy to be self-conscious in a social setting. You don’t know what to say and you don’t know who to talk to. Not everyone there is going to be your best friend, and nor do you want them to be. Regardless, make it a priority at a social gathering to talk to three new people. Humbling yourself by listening and learning about someone is where you start. Having a friend also means having to be a friend to someone. Reach out and take that first step.
You probably don’t want to tell every person you meet your life story. But don’t be afraid to be open! Not only about yourself but also with yourself - be open to new experiences, new ideas, and new kinds of people. Meeting new people can stretch you as a person, and having the wisdom to be open to that shows a desire to continually learn more as a person.
When you pursue your passions and interests, you have a good chance in meeting people who share those same passions and interests! Whether it is your love for deep sea fishing or art, sign up for that expedition or that class. With each event and activity you attend, you are likely to find who group of like-minded friends.
** Strengthening Old Friendships:
They’ve attended our goldfish’s funeral and they’ve made us laugh so hard till our stomachs ached. But with work, family, and friends in new social settings, it is easy loose contact with our old friends who know our guilty pleasures and our irrational fears. It’s hard work keeping old ties strong. But it means being ready to practice honesty, forgiveness, and being supportive.
Our lives are filled with superficial relationships. There is nothing quite like having a friend you with whom you trust. Honesty builds trust. Maintaining trust in a relationship is a constant and continual practice. When discussing your life with old friends, try to open as possible. Your honesty will build a sense of trust and your friend will feel more open to reciprocate.
Anyone who has had a long friendship with a person knows you have to cut people some slack. Yes, Anna has cancelled your lunch date with you three times in a row. But being a friend is also about being understanding. Cancelling plans or forgetting a birthday is not always a lack of interest. We all have been overwhelmed with work and family responsibilities.
People are constantly changing and evolving. We all enter different stages of life (moving, getting married, having kids, losing a loved one), therefore, our friendships change and evolve in the different stages of life as well! Focus on what you and your old friend still have in common and be supportive of your friend’s new adventures in life.
With old connections, it is smart to be virtually present as well. Facebook does not substitute authentic face-to-face conversation, but it does facilitate news updates to strengthen old ties. In the traditional sense, think of social media as the “weekly Christmas card.”
Keep it brief. We may want to respond to an old friend with thought and attention, but we don’t always have time for the novel-length response. Sending frequent but short emails is better.
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