There’s more to good health and longevity than good genes, as a nearly 80 year old Harvard study has shown. Good genes are nice, joy is better.
As it turns out, it really isn’t good for mankind to be alone, Genesis 2:18. Friendship reduces the risk of chronic disease, mental illness and age-related mental decline, and having a friend adds more meaning and joy to life.
It’s been a long time since you were in grade school where friendships were made at the monkey bars or on the ball field. Since we’re no longer playing with classmates on the playground, having good relationships with people takes more effort than it once did.
Need some ideas on how to have awesome friendships? Look at the practical “how to” lists below. They’ll show you how you might be sabotaging relationships and what you can do today to begin or build meaningful, fun and interesting friendships.
How to NOT have a friend:
- Don’t reach out to someone you’d like to get to know better.
- Don’t invite someone you enjoy being with to spend some time with you.
- Don’t put any effort into being a friend.
- Let the other person make all the phone calls to you.
- Let the other person come up with all the things for you two to do together. (For example, never invite your friend to come to your house.)
- Dominate the conversation with your friend.
- Be rude to your friend…all the time.
- Never ask your friend about his/her day, family, work or ministry, hobbies, faith.
- Don’t even try to meet new people.
- Don’t go places where you’re likely to meet people with good values.
- Stay in your home…all the time.
- Don’t initiate conversations with people you don’t know.
- Don’t forgive offenses.
- Don’t say yes to your friend’s invitation to do something together.
- Agree with self doubt and avoid doing new things.
How to have amazing friendships with people who are awesome like you!
Embrace the follow three truths:
- Friendships are all around you waiting for you to discover them.
- Every person you see has been engineered for relationships with people.
- You are a people and you qualify as someone with great friend potential.
And put these to practice:
- Initiate conversation with people around a common interest. (Do you both like dogs? Cats? Do you enjoy movies, art, walking, good food, taking classes…? Are you in the same career field or are you both ministers? Do you play music or enjoy sports? Do you both have preschoolers? Are your spouses in similar fields? Do you both love God? Relationships begin around a common interest. Common interests are instant conversation starters.)
- Put effort into existing friendships.
- Invite your friend to do something that you think he/she will enjoy.
- Invite someone you’d like to know better to lunch or out for coffee / tea.
- Put your friend in the limelight for a while by asking open ended questions that lead to understanding: heart, mission, or life. A great getting to know you question is, why do you do what you do?
- Celebrate your friend’s birthday, milestones and successes.
- Comfort your friend’s broken heart.
- Be your friend’s cheerleader by being a source of sincere and truthful encouragement.
- Be transparent about your life and dreams.
- Pray together.
- Forgive offenses.
- Listen to understand.
- Be intentional in developing new or strengthening existing friendships.
Here’s some shocking news: Friendships rarely happen like they do in the movies. You bump into someone on the street. She drops her books. You pick them up. And magic happens. That’s called fantasy. Instant friendships happen all the time in movies, because there’s not a lot of time to develop initial engagement into a deeply meaningful relationship.
Life without a good friend is a life half lived. Friends add so much to who we are, and they contribute to a true sense of joyful fulfillment. As proven by the Harvard study, the joy of friendship is good for our health and longevity. Bottom line…your efforts to have a friend and to be a friend are priceless.
Look at the list of friendship sabotagers and you’ll see that when you make efforts to be a friend, you are one wheel on a two-wheel bike. The other wheel is your friend being a friend to you. Two wheelers cannot go anywhere without both wheels.
One more thing, most of us can improve in the friendship department. If friends have been passive in your life, then you’re very likely one of multitudes of people who wonder whether their friends care about them. Feel free to share this article with friends and let them know that you value your relationship with them. But if you’ve been the absent wheel, then the bike isn’t going anywhere, and the decision to get it going is yours to make.
Here’s to friendship and Happy New Year!
©Pamela Koefoed 2018