How to Make Friends
"When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another." - Helen Keller
WHAT ARE THE THREE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING FRIENDS?
The research shows there are three main factors:
How to make new connections?
As Ghandi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I've started my own Meetup groups for small-group conversations where folks get to know each other well. I've attended classes, volunteered, hosted social gatherings at my home, served on a local Parks and Recreation Commission, and taken regular fitness classes at the gym. "Same time, same place, same people" works great!
What have I learned?
Friendships, like romantic relationships, take chemistry, openness, energy, and substantial time to take root. Living in a state like Minnesota where 70% of residents are natives and already have very full social dance cards, befriending new folks was very challenging. It can take substantial time, persistence, and a very thick skin!
On the other hand, moving to SW Florida where nearly everyone is a transplant from another place was a smart decision for social wellness. Many Floridians have family living elsewhere, so we are motivated to make new friends. I successfully made several new friends within just months of moving here.
Building community can be valuable to forging social ties.
After I bought my home in Minnesota, I started a Resilience Circle in my community. Resilience Circles are informal groups of neighbors helping neighbors save money and resources through sharing tools, skills, services - they are basically "neighbor to neighbor bartering initiatives." For details, visit: Local Circles.
Our Resilience Circle planted a garden and a memorial tree, made meals for homeless teens, and provided dinners to neighbors grieving the loss of family members. The ripple effects of our efforts made our community stronger and I gained a valuable sense of belonging in my new neighborhood.
To connect my Minnesota neighbors online, I launched a Nextdoor.com community in August 2012. It's like Facebook meets Angie's List! Neighbors, who never would have met offline, are recommending home repair professionals, advertising things for sale or give-away, exchanging favors, and sharing community news. It's a great resource!
HOW DO YOU MAKE MEANINGFUL SOCIAL CONNECTIONS?
Where are your opportunities for deep and substantial conversation and getting to know people on a deeper level? Where are your opportunities to see the same people on a repeat basis? Joining a gym, serving on a non-profit board, volunteering, participating regularly in a Meetup group, frequenting the same library, church, social club, or senior center, and taking classes are great strategies.
Keep in mind that proximity and frequency of unplanned interactions are key ingredients for discovering shared interests and creating that comfort factor which is a springboard for friendship. Persistence and patience pay off.
While you build new connections, become the kind of friend you wish to have. Remember that your relationships - platonic or otherwise - will only be as strong and positive as your relationship with yourself. Charity begins at home, so treat yourself well, take good care of your health, eat and sleep right, and treat yourself as your own best friend - because you are and always will be!
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