“Living a long life, the conventional wisdom at the time said, depended to a great extent on who we were—that is, our genes. It depended on the decisions we made—on what we chose to eat, and how much we chose to exercise, and how effectively we were treated by the medical system. No one was used to thinking about health in terms of community.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HEALTH & FRIENDSHIP
Community and close meaningful friendships are important for our quality of life, and sense of well-being. However, as we age, for a variety of reasons, it can become increasingly difficult to retain our long term friendships. To this, a recent sociological study, from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands, revealed that adults tend to lose half of their close friendships every seven years, and replace them with new relationships – or rather aquaintances. Acquaintances can be great when you are young, but as people age they tend to yearn for more meaningful attachments.
Close friends can help us to celebrate all the great things that life has to offer. And, they can also help us to muddle through its more difficult surprises. With this, it can be difficult when we lose a close friend/s. Also, in todays fast paced world it can become challenging to find and cultivate new – and meaningful – attachments. However, with a little bit of effort, it is possible to make new friends. Listed below are eight tips, from Gretchen Rubin , that can help to make this process easier.
GRETCHEN RUBINS 8 TIPS FOR MAKING FRIENDS
- Show up. Just as “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” a big part of friendship is showing up. Whenever you have the chance to see other people, take it. Go to the party. Stop by someone’s desk. Make the effort. I’m a big believer in the power of online tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to help sustain relationships, but nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting. Also, the mere exposure effect describes the fact that repeated exposure makes you like someone better – and makes that person like you better, too. You’re much more likely to become friends with someone if you see him or her often.
- Join a group. Being part of a natural group, where you have common interests and are brought together automatically, is the easiest way to make friends: starting a new job, taking a class, having a baby, joining a congregation, or moving to a new neighborhood are great opportunities to join a group. If those situations aren’t an option, try to find a different group to join. Get a dog, for example. Or pursue a hobby more seriously. An added advantage to making friends through a group is that you’ll have something obvious in common with these new acquaintances, and you can strengthen your friendships to several people at once — very helpful if you don’t have a lot of free time. Which is important, because for many people, lack of time is a real obstacle to making and sustaining friendships.
- Form a group. If you can’t find an existing group to join, start a group based around something that interests you. Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship, and also brings about a 2% increase in life satisfaction.
- Say nice things about other people. It’s a kind way to behave; also, studies show that because of the psychological phenomenon of spontaneous trait transference, people unintentionally transfer to you the traits you ascribe to other people. So if you tell Jean that Pat is arrogant, unconsciously Jean associates that quality with you. On the other hand, if you say that Pat is hilarious, you’ll be linked to that quality.
- Set a target. This strategy sounds very calculating, but it has really worked for me. This seems artificial, but somehow, this shift makes me behave differently, it makes me more open to people, it prompts me to make the effort to say more than a perfunctory hello.
- Make an effort to smile. Big surprise, studies show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you’re perceived to be. In fact, people who can’t smile due to facial paralysis have trouble with relationships. I’ve been working hard on this myself lately; I’ve become more solemn over the years, or at least more distracted and tightly wound.
- Make friends with friends-of-friends. “Triadic closure” is the term for the fact that people tend to befriend the friends of their friends. So friends-of-friends is an excellent place to start if you’re trying to expand your circle.
- Be aware of cultural differences. [Someone] noted that now that she lived in the United States, she missed the kind of easy, drop-by-your-house friendships that she’d had in Australia. She just didn’t seem able to make those close friends. But I suspect that friendship intensity isn’t the problem, just cultural practice. At least in Kansas City and New York City, the places I know best, even a very close friend wouldn’t be likely to drop by your house unannounced — no matter how those crazy kids behaved on the TV show Friends. So try to be aware of how friendship signals may be different in different places.
Related to Topic:
- You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? (Book, Lyndsay Green)
- It’s Okay To Be Lonely And Alone Sometimes (Article)