Here are a few ways to be a better friend and maintain friendships that are important to you:
1. Pick up the phone and call. Checking in on your friend makes them know you care. It is important to SHOW your friends that you value them. To never reach out to your friends is a flaw on your part. Remember who will be there when you really need them and make sure to reciprocate. Friendship is a two way street so make sure to pick up the phone and try to make a plan to see them.
2. Make a point to not dwell on small things in your friendships. To really be happy, you must overlook some minute details. According to Queen’s University psychologist Kate Harkness “the happiest people have a natural emotional protection against getting sucked in by the intense gravitational pull of little details.” Sometimes we say, text, email, or just notice something that a friend may do that may bother us. It is important to overlook some things and allow people to have bad days. DO NOT get defensive and react to every small thing. If you think you did something where you may have been wrong, the best thing to do is come clean and apologize. Your friend will appreciate that you acknowledged your mistake and will love you even more for it.
3. DO NOT talk badly about someone you consider a friend. If you value someone enough to be your friend then you should refrain from speaking about them negatively. Even when speaking to your spouse, it is always best to speak of your friends in a positive light. Stay out of conversations that are negative. Also, it doesn’t hurt to step in and tell the gossipers to not talk about your friend. If someone is always gossiping to you about others, most likely they are talking about you too. Maybe they need a wake up call and you are the one to point it out. You can say something like “she/he is actually really nice and I don’t have a problem with them”. That will usually stop the hater in their tracks. This is a lesson that you should also instill in your kids. Be a leader not a follower, a positive leader.
There may be that time in your life where this is warranted too:
4. Go out of your way to show your friend that you care. There are many instances in life that will warrant a visit, a phone call or a gesture that shows you care. If your friend, God forbid, has a medical emergency reach out to them. People would rather you say something and let them know that you are there than feel like you are avoiding them. A small gesture like a phone call or a visit is all you have to do. Sometimes there are happy moments like a birthday or a friend having a baby that may arise. Make sure to make that a special occasion for the people you consider friends. We will go through ups and downs throughout our days but a “good” friend will always leave you with a smile on your face.
5. If your friend is going through a change, support them. If you have a friend who is starting a new diet, taking on a new workout routine, starting a new career, moving to a new state, dating a new guy etc. The list goes on an on of possible life changers. As a friend, even though it may be difficult sometimes, make sure to show your friend that you stand by them. Don’t make snide comments that they aren’t fun anymore or that you think their choice is bad. Lift your friend up and tell them that they look great, you are proud of them or that you are there to help if need be. If someone makes a choice and they are looking for a friend to talk to, be that friend. We all would want the same in return.
So with all this said, it is important to be a good friend. Not only do the studies suggest that happiness comes from socialization and positive interactions but also life is short and you need to be your own captain. As the saying goes, “you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends.” If someone is always letting you down or makes you feel lousy, it is your job to value yourself enough to dismiss the friendship. You should never settle for a bad friend. Most importantly be a “good” friend! ~T2B