June Happiness Project: Making Time for Friendships

This is one in a series of monthly articles from Gretchen Rubin’s book:   The Happiness Project.

June’s  Happiness Project is Making Time for Friendships — one of the most meaningful contributors to happiness.  An appropriate theme to address while some of us continue the social distancing.   Keep on reading to find some interesting ways of creating and making time for friendships.

Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter, you’ve far more likely to describe yourself as ‘very happy.’ Some researchers argue that over the last twenty years, the number of confidants claimed by the average American has dropped.   … In fact, if a midlife crisis hits, one of the most common complaints is the lack of true friends.

Gretchen picked some areas where she desired to create deeper friendships.  I am paraphrasing them here:

  • Remember birthdays.  Connecting with friends at least once a year on their birthdays can restart many neglected relationships.  And now, with so many apps to record birthdays, this is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch.  A yearly phone call or email can bring happiness to both of you.
  • Be generous.  Sharing your time and talents with friends can bring lots of satisfaction in your life as well as your friends.  One way to perform a generous act is to encourage and enthusiastic about your friend’s ideas.  Another way is to bring people together by starting groups of common interests. Contributing and sharing your strengths and gifts with others is another generous act that will make you happy.  When you cut people some slack and refuse to judge them, you are being generous.
  • Show up.  Go to your child’s school events, be there for a new mother, call on the elderly lady in your neighbor — are all examples of ways you can show up.
  • Don’t gossip.  Gossip tends to be demeaning and often detracts from any kind of relationship.
  • Make three new friends.  When meeting new people in a group setting, make a point to be friendly and interested in at least three people. How do you show friendliness?  Smile frequently, open or invite others to join a conversation, create a positive mood, try to look and act accessible and warm, laugh at yourself, show a readiness to be pleased, and ask questions.

I am fortunate as most of these tips come naturally to me.  But I, and I am guessing many reading this, struggle some with gossip.  It tends to be a very addictive behavioral pattern — especially among women.

When I find myself in a situation where gossip is dominating, I try to do one of three things:

  1. Tell the other side of the story being shared
  2. Work at changing the subject
  3. Remove myself from the conversation

Most of the time, these tactics work well — IF I recognize what I am doing soon enough.

What ways do you use to stop gossiping or making time for friendships?

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