How to be a Wonderful Friend, in 5 Easy Steps
Abbi co-wrote this with her friend Maddie Wise.
1) Designate quality time.
It’s easy to stay connected when we see peeps each day at work, or bump into them in class, but friendships thrive when we dedicate special time to appreciate each other. Be intentional! Take the initiative to seek out cool events in your area, or a gorgeous park or theater you’ve never been to, pick a date, and invite your friends. This puts you in the driver’s seat of your social life and prioritizes authentic connection, instead of just seeing peeps at their usual spots. Spice things up with friend dates.
2) Stay in touch.
Koala Snapchat filters are absolutely fun (obviiii), but when is the last time you mailed a letter to a dear friend? In the age of technology, having a friend reach out from afar just because they are thinking of you can really mean a lot. Imagine how good it would feel to open your mailbox, expecting a bill, and in its place find a letter from your BFF! It’s incredible that for under a buck or two we can mail a small written gift to our friends anywhere on the entire globe. Send a just-because prezzie to let your friend know what they mean to you.
3) Take a risk.
You’re never too old to make new friends. Ask your acquaintance from yoga out for a smoothie after class! It might be a little scary, and he or she might say no, but you’ll never know unless you try and chances are they’ll have been wanting to ask you the same and get some hang time, too! It’s it crazy how we rarely outgrown our insecurities that we had back in Kindergarten!? The point is, making friends requires vulnerability so just go for it, cuz YOLO.
4) Say no to energy vampires.
We’ve all met them – that person who has somehow moved into your “friend” list but whose company leaves you exhausted and glassy eyed. Maybe there was a great initial spark, but it’s turned toxic now. That’s okay – people have the right to change, and so do we! We don’t keep the same hairstyle from our teens (curly hair + straight bangs, much?), and aren’t obligated to stay attached to friendships that aren’t serving us either. As we grow and refine our interests, beliefs and needs, we need to say no to unhealthy chaos. Like Steve jobs said, “It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” In other words, create more time for the people you already love and adore, and let the vampires do the same. If you are still struggling with this, then put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone hanging out with you because they felt like the had to?
Honesty is a huge tenant of yoga, and so is knowing the right moment to speak. If a valued friend has said or done something that made you uncomfortable, then honor your relationship and your values by voicing your concerns. If a friend says something inappropriate, tell them how you felt using non violent communication. Don’t nitpick just to nag, but because you love and are committed to the friendship and want it to continue! We teach people how to treat us, so taking a deep breath and sharing your upset can be a deeply powerful moment of connection and growth.
Signs of a healthy friendship include mutual encouragement and a feeling of if-you-win-I-win. When in doubt, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask, “how do I feel when I hang out with x”? If the general feeling is positive, that’s a good sign! Know what you value in your friendships and actively seek to cultivate more of that. If in doubt, you could always invite a friend over for a healthy brunch featuring this Hilary’s bad boy, too! 😉
Happy National Friendship Day!