Your friendships have a big influence on your experiences. Relationships help to define who you are and what your future will be like. Having a strong and supportive social circle enhances the quality of your life, and may even help you to live longer.
Find partners and companions who will support and validate you. Follow this formula for choosing friends wisely.
Laying the Groundwork
Identify what you’re looking for in any relationship. That way you’ll have a plan to guide you in deliberately choosing friends instead of letting things happen to you. Friendships are too important to leave them up to chance.
Consider these aspects of friendships:
1. Recognize the challenge. Close friendships are demanding. They require time and effort. They make you vulnerable to frustrations and disappointments. You’ll be more resilient if you have a realistic view of both the responsibilities and the rewards.
2. Establish priorities. Your boss and your family will probably hold you accountable for most of your obligations. However, you may be the only one keeping track of your friendships. Ensure you give them adequate attention.
3. Focus on quality. A few close friends are far more valuable than hundreds of superficial acquaintances. Think about the depth of your connections rather than the volume.
4. Seek balance. Friendships involve give and take. Avoid one-sided relationships that could leave you feeling drained.
5. Consider your values. Surround yourself with others who share your core beliefs. You’ll be able to inspire and guide each other to greater success.
6. Be authentic. Studies show that social media tends to trigger anxiety when we compete with each other to have the most likes or retweets. Enjoy greater peace of mind by giving others the opportunity to accept you for who you are.
Making Your Choices
Put your knowledge into action. Use your friendship criteria to decide when you want to get to know someone better. Reach out to others and work at maintaining the relationships that add meaning to your life.
Take advantage of these strategies:
1. Take risks. Making new friends may mean taking a chance on being rejected or feeling awkward. Remember how much you have to gain so you’ll know the effort is worthwhile.
2. Accept invitations. Kicking your social life up a notch is sometimes as simple as being more grateful for the hospitality you receive. Go to a party even if you’re tired or you feel uncomfortable. You might have a great time, and you’ll certainly get to practice your conversation skills.
3. Develop your interests. Connections often form naturally when you have a mutual love for tennis or watercolors. Meet others at the places you enjoy going to.
4. Volunteer your services. Working side by side for a good cause fosters friendships. Join the board at a local food bank or clean up a park.
5. Stay in touch. Keep your contacts warm. Schedule frequent coffee dates and weekend brunches. Call or text to say hello or when you have interesting news to pass on.
6. Share encouragement. True friends cheer each other on as they work towards their goals and celebrate each other’s victories. You can accomplish so much more when you team up with others. Select friends who will be happy about your success and compassionate about your struggles.
7. Communicate on a deeper level. Be willing to move beyond small talk. When you have friends you trust, you can know the joys of being known and understood.
Choose friends who will help you to fulfill your potential and do the same for them. In many ways, your friends are a reflection of you, so ensure that you’re creating an image that’s satisfying for you.
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