“Make new friends, keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.”—adage
Research conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish and others shows that the happiest and healthiest people are those who are well-connected to friends and family. But, in our mobile society, keeping friends is not always possible. Long-term friendships are wonderful and valuable, but if you don’t make new connections as you get older, your group of friends may diminish due to death and relocation. If you haven’t made new friends in a while, updating your definition of friendship and increasing your skills at meeting people will be worth your while.
First, consider what being a friend means to you. Who are your best friends? What qualities do they have? Once you have a clear idea of the kinds of friendships you would enjoy, you can decide to create more of them in your life. This can be done in two ways:
• Make changes in your current relationships ask your friends to participate in activities you enjoy, and spend more time with the friends whose style of friendship best complements your own.
• Create new friendships --Reach out to coworkers, your neighbors or church members and invite them to accompany you in a favorite activity or for coffee. As an alternative, you may want to join a discussion group focused on literature, film, or painting, or take a class in yoga, or cooking. If you spend time with people who have similar interests, you will soon create new friends.
If you find that you don’t have enough friends, here are some guidelines for making new ones. Of course, you can tailor these suggestions to your personal tastes.
1. Get a life. If you want to meet people with whom you have something in common, do things on a regular basis that involve others. Activities can range from taking classes, joining hobby clubs, volunteering, playing a sport or game, hiking, or any pursuit that meets regularly. The people you meet will share your interest, and you’ll have something to talk about and enjoy together.
2. Find interesting, fun people. Being involved in an ongoing activity, and meeting with the same people on a regular basis gives you a chance to get to know them before you decide to pursue a more personal relationship. When you find someone you think is particularly pleasant, spend a little time talking with him or her during or after your activity. Ask questions about the project you are working on, or share experiences and advice. If you both enjoy the conversation, goes well, you can offer to meet before or after the session for coffee. From there, you can begin do more things together, until you’ve established a pattern of friendship.
3. Don’t overlook people you know. While you’re making new friends, don’t forget the people you already know. Is there a favorite family member you’d like to see more often? Call him or her and suggest going for a walk, or to lunch. Are there acquaintances at work, at church, in your neighborhood, involved in your child’s ( or your own) school, or elsewhere with whom you could develop a friendship? Consider reaching out to them. Let these people know that you’d like to share events and activities.
Spending quality time with friends is beneficial to your emotional, mental and physical health. If you follow the above steps, you’ll find
that it isn’t as difficult as you think to make friends.
(Adapted from The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty)