Secret Of Making Friends Forever

Jan 30, 2012 1 Comment by


DO YOU HAVE sufficient people in your life to share the laughs and tears come with the endless ups and downs of living? Research has shown that friends dramatically increase well being while simultaneously reducing stress and improving self-esteem. Psychotherapist and writer Stephanie Dowrick puts it this way: “Whatever our age, friendship protects us from the devastation of loneliness… a life without friends is impoverished.”

A recent Public Library of Science review looked at 148 studies involving more than 300,000 participants and found that social relationship also dramatically influence our mortality rate. According to the study’s leading researcher, Professor Timothy Smith, social relationships have as much of an impact on mortality as risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption, and even more of an impact than physical inactivity and obesity.

Clinical psychologist Renee Mill points out that we exhibit a spontaneous social instictto make friends from a very early age. Scientific experiments have shown that parts of the brain light up when children play, hug and interact with each other other, indicating enhanced brain activity.

At school and university we have many opportunities to meet and interact with new people who may become lifelong friends. In later life, having children at school or kindergarten may enable you to connect with the parents of your children’s classmates. Through shared activities with young children and their parents, strong bonds are often created.

However, there are periods when life take a different turn. You may move to a new suburb, city or even country; get divorced; or start a new job. It’s at times like these that you are required to redefine your inner circle. Dramatic changes may end your friendships, and you may be forced to rebuild your network.


So how does one make a friend? At work, it’s easier than anywhere else because you often meet like-minded colleagues who eventually become your friends. But if the workplace isn’t an option, you may have to enrol in a course or a sporting activity, or join a book club.
The important thing is to do something you really like-such as painting, sailing or bush walking- so that you can meet others who like these activities too. There’s no point in joining a bridge club if you hate playing cards.

It’s also possible to make good friends in surprising places; even a friendly chat in a bank queue can lead to a friendship that lasts years, as one of my friends attests! Being open to opportunities is the key to making new friends, as is a healthy dose of courage: you must be proactive and take the initiative. Even if you’re shy or reluctant to make the first move, when you meet someone you feel a rapport with, it’s important to suggest exchanging contact details witha view to meeting.

And how many friends are enough? If you have three or four good friends you can truly count on, you are blessed, says psychotherapist Susie Wise. “As an adult, it’s risky to have only one ‘best friend’; having a circle of friends is more beneficial, as it makes you less dependent on one person, and expands and varies your social environment.”

Psychologist Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, states that the highest predictor of happiness is good relationships, although the number of friends needed to be happy may vary. Mill adds that the number of friends depends on a person’s level of extroversion. The more extroverted we are, the more friends we need; the important factor, however, is to understand your needs.
Mill continues, “Friendships are often fluid, dependent on where you live and work-and, interestingly, proximity is the highest indicator of a continuing friendship. If someone changes his or her work situation, it is likely that your friendship may not survive the change. We should have a realistic view of friendship, and understand that the bonds are not as strong as family ties.”

Psychologist Nikki Kaplan says we may have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, but very few of these cyber pals translate into real flesh-and-blood relationships. “It’s tempting to spend hours texting, tweeting and emailing, alone in front of our computers, instead of engaging in tangible encounters,” Kaplan says. But without face-to-face connection, she believes we lose something precious in our quality of interaction- which is why she recommends we focus on regularly doing enjoyable things with our friends.


To have good friends, the pundits agree, you must be a good friend. That can mean spending time together regularly, sharing a common goal, even something as simple as a regular lunch or movie date- but it must be more meaningful than a vague catch-up every so often, as connections like these gradually lose momentum.

Mills says it is vital to invest in your friendships- whether by paying attention to meaningful events in a friend’s life, acknowledging and celebrating their milestones, or offering tangible help if they’re going through a hard time. Giving friends some of your time, or helping with something you’re good at (but they aren’t), is a wonderful way of being a friends. And make sure you earn your friends’ trust.
“I want to be able to tell a friend anything, and be sure that she will not breach my confidentiality,” says mother of four Hilary Levine. “I stay away from people who are negative and who drain my energies- for example, toxic people who just love to gossip! In contrast, friends who are intelligent, positive and interesting are a tonic.”

The outgoing Levine continues: “I also think relying on one person to supply all your friendship needs is not helpful. I enjoy having friends from different cultures with a wide range of attributes, as this expands my world.”

Whatever your values, there’s no doubt that good friends are critical to our feelings of well-being and self-worth. With friendships as a priority, our challenge is to create sufficient time to begin, nurture and sustain our friendships no matter how busy we may think we are.”Deeper friendships expand our inner horizon and enhance the quality of our life.” says Dowrick And who, honesty, can resist that?


One Response to “Secret Of Making Friends Forever”

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