I think a friend is one of the best kinds of relationships in the world. When you have quality friends, you know that they will be there to support you through the very best and worst of times.
Research has shown over and over again that supportive social circles play a huge role in overcoming physical and mental obstacles in life. In addition, masterminds and think tanks are another important source of social support to help individuals motivate one another, achieve goals, and improve various areas of your life.
Most importantly, having good friends around just makes life easier and more enjoyable. Often people who can’t find loyal and supportive friends are more likely to suffer from loneliness, depression, and apathy. There is simply no question that positive relationships are a necessity for a happy and fulfilling life.
Quick tips to help build positive friendships
1. Find commonalities with others
One of the initial starting points to any positive friendship is discovering what you have in common. Usually, it’s not that hard to do. The very act of meeting someone often reveals some kind of potential association. Maybe you both attend the same class. Maybe you both work at the same job. Maybe you both have a mutual friend. Or maybe you both went to the same concert or local event. All of these are not only common ways you will meet new people, but also situations where you automatically share something in common with that other person. These kinds of situations are natural conversation starters, and an easy gateway to begin finding other commonalities with whoever you meet.
2. Respect everyone’s individuality
However much you find in common with another person, it is very likely that there will be major differences as well. One of the biggest ways people screw up relationships is by trying to get someone to change into someone else. For this reason, it’s very important that good friends respect each others’ individuality. This means recognizing that your friends may sometimes have different values, beliefs, interests, and goals than you do.
3. Create and share positive experiences
Ultimately a good friendship comes down to creating and sharing positive experiences. The more we enjoy time with someone, the more our brains associate good feelings with them, and the more we are willing to spend time with them in the future. The good thing is that there are almost an infinite number of ways to create positive experiences: listen to music, watch movies, go to parties, attend local events, eat at a nice restaurant, play video games, read poetry, etc. What you choose to do exactly will depend on each person, but the important thing is that you focus on pleasure and fun. Some people have a tendency to complain a lot, and instead of creating positive experiences they spread a lot of negativity around. Not so surprisingly, these people have a much more difficult time building friendships vs. people who focus on enjoying life more.
4. Encourage growth and flourishing
Another important characteristic of friendships is that we should help each other grow and flourish. As a friend, I always try to identify the positive attributes I see in others. And when doing this I also encourage my friends to pursue those strengths, build upon them, and truly make the best out of their unique talents and skills. For the most part, people want to grow and improve their lives, and when a friend can help us in achieving this, we appreciate their support and inspiration.
5. Just be there and listen
At times the very best thing a friend can do is just be there and listen. Everyone goes through troubling times, and sometimes a friend just wants someone to be there so that they can communicate their frustrations and disappointments to someone who cares. They aren’t looking for advice. They may not even be looking for sympathy or pity. Instead, they just want your undivided attention. And in many ways “attention is the currency of relationships.”