With the dawn of a new year, everyone is thinking about ways to improve themselves and live their best life. Whether your ambitions run to overhauling your diet and starting your day with healthy smoothies, travelling and seeing more of the world, studying for a new qualification or even finally getting those killer abs, there's no end of articles, videos, podcasts and books instructing you on how to go about it. Some people are just constantly striving to better themselves, and that is a positive drive to have in life. But whichever areas of self-improvement we've chosen to focus on, relatively few will think about how they can become a better friend. And yet, focusing on this area of your life has real potential to improve your happiness and mental balance.
Friendships are the glue that bind together our days, and shared experiences have the biggest impact on our well-being. Human beings are fundamentally social animals, and when we develop solid bonds, it makes our lives feel more stable. If we choose to enhance what we give to others in our friendships, we will get so much more back in return. Making a conscious decision to enhance what you give, will mean you get so much. So focus on your friendships this year in order to enhance your life…
Improve Your Communication Skills
When was the last time you really listened? Social media and time pressures have gradually eroded our ability to deeply listen, and conditioned us to become much more superficial, with a reduced attention span. All the scrolling, swiping and expressing our thoughts in 140 characters has taken its toll, and we struggle with giving our friendships the deep dive that they need. Concentrating on non-verbal cues during conversations will give you a much clearer picture of how the other person actually is. There may be areas where they need extra support that you simply won't pick up on without meaningful conversation. Things like being trapped in a destructive relationship are often subtle and difficult to spot, as victims will often try to hide what's really going on out of misplaced shame and fear. A friend who listens can be absolutely invaluable in a situation like this, and a crucial part of the effort to stop violence against women. The impact of paying attention can be huge in areas such as this. Use kindness and sensitivity towards their feelings and you could make a life-changing connection.
Stand By Your Word
Making false promises is sure to damage your friendships. Sometimes we can do this without meaning to, but being able to trust your word is essential if you want your friends to trust you. The intentions you put out into the world must tally with your actions, or it creates a fundamental mistrust that can sour your friendships. If you've ever been guilty of not being true to your word, even without intending to do so, then this year you need to up your game. If you've arranged a coffee date, don't flake out. If you say you'll get those concert tickets, then do. Even if it's a really small thing, like promising to do a favor, then follow up on it. This will strengthen your social ties and build stronger reciprocal friendships.
We are all human, but sometimes we can be a bit judgmental and unforgiving when it comes to the failings of others. If you've chosen to give your loyalty to someone, then don't make it conditional. Building a support network doesn't happen overnight, so if your friends falter on occasion then try to be understanding. There is definitely a difference between those who consistently let you down and something happening on one occasion. Learn to be more forgiving, especially if a friend is coping with recently changed circumstances, like starting a new job or having a family. They may have a lot on their mind.
Understand Other Perspectives
Life is all about variety, and it would be very boring if we all held the same opinions. So don't make the mistake of assuming your take on a situation is the only way that's right. The beauty of life is the multitude of differing opinions. If you let go of the idea that there is a ‘right’ way to think about a given situation, it will open up your mind and enrich your life. You'll become an empathetic person and a much better friend. It's an important step to take for your own enrichment and that of your friendships.
LETS GET SOCIAL…