Surrounding oneself with solid friendships is said to have some serious benefits on both one’s happiness and health. And it’s easy to see why: the immense laughter and enjoyment one experiences through friendship is palpable, and the emotional benefit – from having a shoulder to cry on to discussing your deepest thoughts – helps one work through problems and become a stronger person.
Of course, it becomes easy to take something so special for granted, particularly when life gets in the way. Whether your time is taken up by a job, kids, family obligations, school, or travel, some times it simply becomes difficult to keep up with those friendships you cherish most.
But this spring, we challenge you to focus on sustaining the relationships you adore. The first step in doing so? Become a kinder friend. This includes everything from making more time to catch up via email, to texting them a cute smile when you miss them, to treating your friend to dinner when you finally get together. How else can you become a kinder friend?
- Be honest yet kind. Real friends speak the truth with sincerity and compassion. Superficiality can only serve to tear a rift between friends who were once close, and offer a barrier to friends in the making. Being superficial – or not telling the whole truth – won’t gain you the respect of any friends, even if you’re trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Tell him or her what they need to hear with tact, grace, and love.
- Let things go. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if Jane missed your birthday party, or if Susan ditched out on plans last minute? Unless it’s a recurring problem, it’s important to let the small stuff go. Holding grudges takes a lot of mental energy – energy you don’t need to be wasting – and can seriously harm a friendship in the long term. When things change, go with the flow as often as possible. Who knows, your friend might be struggling to juggle his or her priorities… and that’s something you can help them through.
- Speak positively, and limit gossip. Of course, gossip can be fun, and can feel like a bonding mechanism. Unfortunately, all gossip typically breeds is negativity, and we’re striving for positive relationships that enrich our lives. Make a pact with yourself to speak about the positive things, and focus on your life and your friends’.
- Be present. It can be easy to get together and hop on Facebook to peruse the latest updates from friends you have in common, or to show your friend a hilarious email chain you saw recently. It’s also easy to be distracted by incoming texts, emails, and calls. When you’re with friends, however, make a point to be present. Put the phone away, turn off electronics, and really take the time to experience each other’s company. You will be amazed how much closer you feel!
- Love yourself. As the old saying goes, it’s hard to love someone else until you can truly love yourself. Always know that you deserve the best friendships in the world, and deserve to surround yourself with people that nourish you. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you’ll be to others – and the kinder they’ll be in return.
How do you keep your friendships strong and filled with kindness?