Yesterday I spent the day with two close friends; one new friend and one “old” friend. What an awesome day it was! The day ended (as it always does) with us all saying “we should do this way more often”.
I have always maintained a few really close friendships, and several great acquaintances. When I was younger, my friendships were everything to me. They defined who I was, in my opinion. Since then, we all grew up, went to college, got careers, and went our separate ways. We got married, moved away, and had kids. As our time became more lacking and our responsibilities grew, our friendships got pushed down the priority list.
How do we fit our friends into an already overcrowded life? How do we maintain and grow friendships that are meaningful?
The first thing that comes to mind is that we must choose friends wisely. We need to focus our energy on people who make us feel good.
I try and choose friends who are worthy of my valuable time and attention. I know that sounds a little pretentious, but it’s true. When you think about your finite life energy, don’t you feel the same way?
It’s important to surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Try and choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you. People who you look forward to seeing each day and who are passionate.
Make time for your friends.
If you have to really think about the last time you were in contact with a friend, then it was too long ago. Life can get in the way so much that we find it has been months since we have been in touch with someone we care about.
We can’t “find” time for our friends, we need to make time. I have found myself saying “my family and friends are the most important thing to me” while at the same time working 80 hours per week; disconnect, anyone? I often delay calling a friend when I know we will need an hour to catch up and I don’t have an hour, instead of taking 5 minutes to call and say I was thinking of them.
The best way to make time for friends is to plan future gatherings while you are all together. Also, make the time to send an email or give a quick phone call to show your friends they matter. A few minutes a couple times a week is golden!
Don’t judge your friends.
If we truly call someone a friend, we need to accept them the way they are. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Trying to control a friend or “fight” their natural tendencies is not true friendship. We cannot control other people, and we really have no right to try. The better we understand this, the better our relationships become.
It is always tough for me when I disagree with friend’s choices. True friendship is when you don’t judge choices the person makes, and instead care about their well-being. Ultimately, wouldn’t it be boring to only have people in your life who you agreed with 100% of the time?
Treat yourself with kindness and respect first.
I spent a lot of time yesterday listening to my friend tell me how she always puts other people she cares about first. This is pretty common, in my experience. Being a good friend does not mean being a doormat. The kinder you are to yourself first the happier you will be. The happier you are, the more you have to give to others.
Do I follow all of these rules myself? Not always, but man do I try! I have been lucky enough to keep up some great friendships in my life, and over time I have learned what it takes for friendships to endure. There are a million reasons to maintain and grow friendships, but first we must make time for friends in our lives.
How do you make time for your friendships?