"Of all the things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship." Epicurus
The number one predictor of personal happiness is not money, prestige, success or accolades, but rather the time we spend in the flow of affection among our friends. Unfortunately, it often takes a loss, an illness, a disappointment or some tragedy to remind us of the value of our friends. In spite of our very busy lives, we should try not to delay our appreciation of the joy good friends bring into our lives.
Friends come into our lives through various channels and for one reason or another; they can be family, colleagues or neighbors. At the outset we choose from among them, those we single out for qualities that we most admire. It does not take long to sense a relationship which feels as if we have known some of these folks for our entire lives, in other words, we feel completely at ease with them. We feel safe, we neither weigh our thoughts, nor measure our words, we pour them all right out, just as they are -- with a certainty that the sincere and faithful hands of these invaluable friends will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
I have been wise to take the time to enjoy all my relationships with my friends. I have discovered that these have been the most precious times of my life -- a loving connection handsomely sprinkled with laughter and joy. Francis Bacon is quoted to have said, "Friendship doubles joy and cuts grief in half."
A good, solid and lasting friendship is not created automatically, it requires time, effort, caring, support and respect. Once we develop a certain level of comfort with this other person or persons, the friendship takes on a life of its' own. We may be separated by miles, yet we keep each other in our thoughts and reach out by whatever means are available to us and continue a never ending conversation.
This kind of relationship lends itself to a manner of conversing which flows naturally and with ease, neither one trying to impress, judge or to be in competition with the other.
The following are a few of my personal strategies that have helped me gain new friends, and to keep in touch with those I have known for a while:
1. Make an effort. There is nothing better than meeting our friends in person. Try to be there on all those occasions when you are invited such as weddings, births, birthdays and anniversaries etc. Visit a friend who might be hospitalized or has suffered a loss of a loved one. Invite your friends to all important occasions at your end, invite them for lunch or dinner. Always keep in touch.
2. To meet new people in similar circumstances or those who share your interests, seek out group meetings. I joined a men's group which meets every other week. It gives me great joy to attend and spend time with a group of like-minded people.
3. Take charge of shaping your social environment. Don't feel obligated to keep up with all friends. Some you will see more frequently than others and that is perfectly fine. Think about what type of activity brings you joy and happiness, then make the effort to make it happen.
4. Make the effort to say "This made me think of you." We're all busy, and keeping in touch can feel like a lot of work. One strategy that works for me is to send "This made me think of you" E-mails, whenever I see something of interest to a friend. Forward a link to a friend that you think would be interested in a certain subject.
Blessed are those who have good friends. Appreciate them, enjoy their company and let them know you love them.