The Art of Friendships

Friendships are vitally important to the overall quality of our lives. In the ups and downs of life, nothing ever seems quite so bad when you can talk it over with a trusted friend. You can even start by making any one of the “GetUp&Go™ diaries your ‘trusted’ friend to read words to inspire you and then jot down your thoughts.

There are good ships and there are wood ships, and ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.”  (Irish proverb)

Friendship is a gift to be treasured. It is an opportunity to love another, to learn about ourselves and to mature as a human being. As matter of fact it allows us to open up to the full experience of life.

‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ – One friend is often all we truly need, but the more the merrier.

We all speak about ‘making friends’, although, it can be difficult to do so, especially later in life. The reality is we don’t ‘make’ friends – we build friendships. Building anything takes time and energy. We like this simple quote:

‘The best vitamin for making friends is B1”

The secret to ‘making friends’ is simply to be a friend. We can be a friend to anyone.

“There are no strangers here, just friends you haven’t met yet.” – W B Yeats

Every friend was once a stranger. In our language sometimes stranger can equate with danger. Yes, there is a risk in reaching out to another human being. We might be rejected, or hurt. Oh, but what if we are accepted … just for who we are? How delicious!  How healing is that?

Children creating friendships

Children starting school expect to meet new people – children and adults. Parents understand the importance of children learning how to socialise and get along with other people. We speak to children about the importance of ‘making friends’ to emphasise the importance of friendship – and that perhaps they will need to make an effort especially if they are shy and insecure. As adults, the same challenges remain. Meeting new people can seem scary. We don’t ‘know’ anything about them. Children aren’t afraid to ask .. What’s your name? Is that your Lego? Can I play with you?

It’s a great start!

Adults sometimes are more strategic and guarded. We all have an experience of a friendship being broken through loss or betrayal and it’s hard to get over the loss of a friend. We wonder is it worth investing time and effort into a friendship with ‘this person’. The gift of true friendship is a gift worth having.

And the art of being a friend is an art worth mastering. The tragedy is losing an important friendship over something trivial.

Be your own best friend first.

Everything in our lives ultimately revolves around relationships, including the relationship with ourselves. We must learn to treat ourselves, and speak to ourselves, in a way we would treat a best friend. Then we can honestly befriend another – knowing what we value and what it takes to be a good friend.  Be first.   ‘The best vitamin for making friends is B1”  Don’t sit moping in the corner hoping someone will come over and ask you how you are, and then complain that  ‘no one cares’.

Be the person who sees someone ‘in a corner’ and asks them how they are. You may not feel all that confident. However, you can be a person who cares. Be the friendly one. Be the kind of person you would love to have as a friend .. loyal, supportive, honest, encouraging … and able to have a good laugh with! A good friend will see us through the rough times and who better to share the good times with?

Take Your Time

It takes time to get to know people, to discover common values and common ground. If you like someone, you will definitely find something to talk about.  It is unlikely you will want to befriend someone with whom you have nothing in common. It’s ok to ask people about themselves, and it’s important to be honest  about yourself if they ask you about you, as this builds trust. Trust is essential and it may be tested many times in a friendship. Trust itself is a gift.

Don’t jump to conclusions

All friendships face challenges and misunderstandings. If you’re ‘hurt’ talk it out. Let your friend explain. Listen. Forgive and forget. If it’s you who has ‘done the damage’, fess up. Ask for forgiveness. Be clear on boundaries and what is and isn’t acceptable. Be brave. Make the call. Write the letter. Set up the coffee date. Whatever happened, it may not be worth losing a friendship over.

Show up

Go places where there are people doing what you do, and enjoying what you enjoy. Be natural. If you’re normally quiet, be quiet. Suppose you’re generally outgoing, be outgoing. If you’re funny, be naturally funny. Assuming you’re instinctively kind, be kind. The main thing is to be there. You cannot make friends in isolation.

In this internet age takes effort to show up on a screen. But it’s not television. You are not auditioning for a role in a movie. You’re just being yourself. And that’s when the possibility of true friendship starts to develop. It’s up to you to nurture it.

Most of us learned how to ‘make friends’ early on in life. Perhaps the same principles apply in later life. We have all had many friendships over the years. These have helped us navigate the ups and downs of life. They have boosted our happiness and reduced our stress. They have improved our self-confidence and self-worth, and helped us cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one. Some have survived the test of time, others have not.

If you find it difficult to ‘make friends’ you may be focusing too much on yourself.  Don’t let the fact that you are shy, or uncomfortable interacting with others, or simply don’t go places that would lead to meeting new people, stop you from the opportunity of being a friend. You won’t have friends if you don’t make the effort. There is someone for everyone.

Everyone wants and needs friends. There is no shortage. Widen your circle.

5 ways in Mastering the Art of Friendships

Studies have shown that, when people reach their 30’s, they start to value quality friendships over quantity. Once our social circles dwindle, people settle for fewer friendships. As an outsider to those social circles, you may find it more intimidating to “break in” to an already established social circle.

Be brave. A simple hello with a warm smile can be enough.  It sometimes can seem difficult to put yourself out there, making new friends is a form of self- care. People have also known for years that friendships are unquestionably good for your health. Experts say it’s only natural for acquaintances and even friends to fall by the wayside as time goes on – and it’s nothing to feel guilty about. If you really do miss someone, you  can always reach back out. If you want new friends, get yourself out there. That’s where they are! You just need to be friendly, open, interested in other people, kind, willing to help

… and have fun.

We are all children at heart.

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