"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." – C.S. LewisTweet It!
Lewis recognized the power of having friends. In addition to making our lives fuller, there is a sort of comfort in being with people who know you. Some of them may be “true blue” friends and some may be people who are pleasant to be around for as Marcel Proust described: "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
But not all of us are fortunate to always be around people who make us happy. I’ve had clients who shared that they don’t have anyone they can call to do activities with or to simply share time. I can empathize with them. Until the last few years, I had very few friends but I thought I was happy being alone most of the time. However, in the last five years, I felt empty when I saw great friendships in a movies or television. I realized that being a loner wasn’t as fulfilling as I once thought. So I decided to put forth an effort to make some friends. Unfortunately, I found that that if you don’t work in a normal office, have children or pets, it can be difficult to find scenarios where you might meet potential friends. In addition, I have been told that I am not the easiest person to get to know.
However, I am pleased to share that over time I have increased my circle of friends: from BFFs to those with whom I share a few minutes of enjoyable conversation every now and then.
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” - Marcel ProustTweet It!
So, when my clients share this lack in their lives, I can offer suggestions from my own experience. To borrow and paraphrase from the Holstee Manifesto, friends “will be waiting for you when you start doing what you love.” The people you meet while doing something you love already share a common interest with you. Here are four avenues for building friendships that I suggest to my clients:
- Take a class – Is there something new you would like to learn? Classes are great places to meet new people. In addition to having a common interest, if the class has multiple sessions, it provides an opportunity to overcome the initial hesitation of meeting someone new. (I met two of my closest friends in class settings.)
- Participate in an activity you enjoy – Again, in addition to the common interest factor, you have already an activity in which you can participate together. (I've met other friends through my local gym.)
- Volunteer for a cause you value – Similar to taking a class, your recurrent activity will give you time to overcome the initial hesitation. In addition, you'll be in service for a great cause.
- Get to know your friend’s friends – Since you have something in common with your friend or someone with whom you share time, you may also find that the people this friend knows may be someone you would also like to get to know. (I met my oldest and dearest friend through someone I knew)
Once you start doing more things that you love, make sure to approach them with an open mind. Be receptive to the possible friendships that may be developing. Most importantly, be a friend first: smile, say hello, suggest going for coffee and follow the advice of Francesso Guicciardini: “Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them.”
Want to make more mindful connections? Come to our workshop on How To Build & Maintain Meaningful Relationships on February 10th!
Dr. Fonda Na'Desh is a Change Practitioner that helps individuals and organizations get out of their own way. She also works with small business owners to teach marketing and diversity.
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