Friends - Your Greatest Treasure
Friendship is what, to me, gives life meaning. My friends comfort me, laugh with me, and cheer me on my life's journey. Many times, they've saved my sanity.
But I didn't always have the wonderful friends I have today. It took me time to understand the keys to true friendship.
Here are the ones that have worked best for me. See if they ring a bell for you:
* You need to practice friendship. It doesn't just happen, and it doesn't occur all at once. Start by working on acquaintanceship. Friendship takes time, but acquaintances leads to friends. Make overtures. Invite an acquaintance to coffee. You need to do this active building work to forge the basis for friendship.
* Friendship is about honesty. Your friends like you because you share your true feelings and let them do the same. Friendship can't grow unless you risk being candid and vulnerable with another person.
* Be curious about each person you meet. Ask questions to ferret out their life story and discover how they came to be who they are. Put aside your preconceptions and look at the world through their eyes. Through such empathy is friendship forged.
* Make a list of your "really close friends," "close friends," and "people who may become good friends." Write a few lines describing what you can expect from each one. Can you call them whenever you need to talk? Can you count on them in a crisis? Do they always do what they say, or do they tend to cancel plans? Don't judge them but accept them as they are. There are many valid reasons why some friends can't be as available to you as others. If you know what to anticipate, you won't be disappointed, frustrated, or angry if they can't give you what you want. Appreciate them for what they offer.
* Remember there are seasons in friendship. When people first get married, have a child, start a new job, or go through a crisis, they may become less available. Keep in touch without demanding more than they're able to provide, and the friendship may blossom again in a new season.
* When you're looking for new friends, try joining a group of people who share your interest, whether it's gardens, animals, birds, music, art, or movies. Many organizations have newcomer groups, which are ideal for meeting others who are looking for friends.
A wonderful tool is www.meetup.com, which lists groups in your area that meet your criteria (and gives you the tools to start your own groups if you don't find what you're looking for). Meetup.com isn't a place to meet online, as many people assume; it's a clearing house for those who want to actually meet with other people in their own neighborhoods or nearby areas. Using meetup.com in my small community, I found and joined (or started) the following: a vegetarian group that gets together for specially-prepared vegan fare, a group that plays a variety of board games, a crafting circle, a philosophical gathering, a dining-out group, and a book club. That's just a fraction of what's available. And you can always start your own group and let people know where and when you'd like to meet.
* Introduce your friends to one another. Doing so makes you more central in your own network. That means you'll have more access to everything flowing through your network and will be more likely to achieve your goals and strengthen your friendships.
* Be open to friendship with many different kinds of people. Those with beliefs and attitudes different for yours can add valuable new dimensions to your life.
* Making friends involves more than widening the circle of people you know. You need to build relationships with the right people - those you can turn to when you have problems, those you can trust.
* Meet your friends face-to-face whenever possible. While electronic communication can facilitate connection, there's something about sharing in-person smiles, tears, laughter, and touches that cements true friendship as nothing else can.
I discuss the importance of friendship in my new book, Waking Up Happy: A Handbook Of Change With Memoirs Of Recovery And Hope ( http://www.wakinguphappybook.com/ ), which includes my memoir and the memoirs of over 30 others who have changed their lives for the better. As each storyteller learns lessons in their life, I add exercises that you can do to create those same changes in your own life.
What does friendship mean to you? What do your friends give you, and what do you give to them? What, to you, is the most important key to being a good friend? Share your story at my website http://www.wakinguphappybook.com/. I look forward to hearing from you!
About The Author:
Juliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (snpo.org), she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who's Who (MarquisWhoswho.com). In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.
BUY THE BOOK: Waking Up Happy
Book Description: Waking Up Happy
There are many reasons why you may want to change your life. If you're in a relationship that's diminishing rather than enhancing your best self, or if you're eating the wrong foods, hurting your body, or doing other self-destructive things, you know, deep inside, that you can't continue on that path. And as you pass through different phases in your life - as you become a parent, for example, or an empty-nester or a retiree - radical adjustments are necessary.
Changing your life isn't easy. It means learning to know yourself. It means creating yourself anew. Because you're both the sculptor and the stone, it's a wrenching task.
And yet every sculptor knows that the piece of art that's meant to be already exists: It's a matter of carving its essence from material that's already there. When asked how the granite bear came to be, the sculptor says, "I just cut away everything that wasn't a bear."
Everyone's life cries out for transformation. If you don't change and grow, you die: Bit by bit, day by day, your innermost soul dwindles and perishes. The cost of not continuing to grow is ultimately feeling half-dead.
Your're the artist of your own life. All you need to do is pick up the tools for change and begin to use them. Each false start is a carving crucial to the final piece of art, paving the way for you to sculpt your greatest creation: the beautiful self that lies within the stone.
Book Excerpt: Waking Up Happy