Whether you’re Socially McSocial Butterfly or more of an introvert, connecting with others is important.
Friends, colleagues, family members…they matter more than things and power and accomplishments and all of those other trappings of life.
But, interestingly, friends in particular affect your life in ways you might not imagine. Sure, they reflect your common interests (I mean, there is a reason why you became friends in the first place, right?)…but it goes beyond that. Friendships literally can shape your future. How?
Surround Yourself With Awesome People
- They provide you with permission and encouragement. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not so good. For example, it’s great when a friend provides you with support and honest advice when you’re considering a career change. It’s not so good when they consistently encourage you to skip the gym to join them for a quadruple frap-latte-cino-shake with extra syrup.
- Good friends bring the honest. You know a acquaintance is a keeper if they tell you there is spinach in your teeth. Friends take that to a whole new level; hold onto that friend who takes you aside and says, “You’ve seemed stressed recently. What’s going on and can I help?” The honesty found in a true friendship can help bring out a person’s best.
- You are what you eat, but you are also those with whom you hang out. When you hang out with people regularly, even the strongest personalities can be influenced. This can be a great thing; your world can be expanded by being introduced to new subject matters. New music, new opinions, new interests, new areas of study. But the opposite is true as well…if you’re constantly around unhappy, angry, resentful people, those emotions can’t help but affect you. So stick people who inspire you in a positive way.
- Friends make life’s bumps and set-backs tolerable. Just by being there for each other. It’s as simple as that. Friends carry your through the tough times…knowing you aren’t alone can make all of the difference when the going is rough.
- Laughter. Friends bring it! You know laughing is good for you; it’s cathartic and good for the soul. Who do you laugh with the most? Your friends!
So here is where things get sticky. What to do with those people in your life that you call friends, but you know aren’t good for you? They are negative, discouraging, bring out the worst in you? Sometimes people just don’t mesh, and there are people out there who-for whatever reason-are harmful to our psyches. If you’ve done your best to be a good friend to THEM and have come to the sad conclusion that you’d be better off without this person in your life, give yourself permission to step away.
Letting go of negative friendships can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision. Reducing contact often does the trick (you don’t have to accept every single lunch invitation you get!). This will free up time for you to focus on those people that are a positive influence in your life!
Now go forth and be friendly! But before you do, I’d love to hear a story of friendship from you. Whether it’s how a friend helped you through a difficult time, or how you had to extricate yourself from a friendship. Tell us in the comments; you just might help someone!