Here’s a fact not everyone is aware of: Human beings were not designed to be completely alone.
But I’m surrounded by morons, you might be thinking. I can’t depend on people. I’m happiest in my own company. Even if that were true, the world is a big enough place that you can find people to be the friends that you truly need.
Others among us know we need people, and align ourselves with people and groups, but often feel their companionship need still not being met. The friends can be unresponsive or even toxic. You may wonder, is that what I’m stuck with for the rest of my days?
What makes a perfect friendship? How do we find and keep friends who encourage and strengthen who we are? How do we maintain friendships with the demands of our jobs, family, and other responsibilities?
There are a wide range of traits you may find in a true friend. We’ve narrowed it down to five of the most critical aspects of friendship.
5. Team Players
Being a team player and putting the needs of others before ourselves for a shared goal is what friendship is all about. Communicating, collaborating, and active listening are all essential traits that make the most successful teams unstoppable forces. Just like you, your companions have their hopes and dreams. Just like you, they could use someone who assures them they can do it. Be that person. Give them courage, make them feel strong about themselves. How good does it feel when someone pats you on the back after achieving a certain goal? The next time a friend crushes an obstacle, celebrate that win, however small it may be. Your perception of the level of their hardships should never abstain you from showing how proud you are of them.
Something else that shows you are a team player? Putting your phone away while you are with a friend. In this day and age, that might sound like trying to lift a car off the ground with a pair of tweezers, but even the most casual smartphone user can be easily distracted by the device. Give shutting it down a try.
Holding a grudge is just plain stupid. It makes you negative and it drains your mental energy. In nearly every case, a dispute can be resolved. Try to understand the cause of the action with maturity and critical thinking skills. “What motivated him to act this way? Did something recently happen to him? How can I assist him?” Approach the person with openness and be humble. If a resolution cannot be achieved, the best thing you can do is forgive. It may plan the seed for a reconciliation down the road.
This is not a sign of someone trying to stir up trouble just for the fun of it. Genuine friends will call us out when we’re wrong. We all have flaws. Real friends identify them in a mindful manner not to be spiteful, but for accountability’s sake.
Be assertive with keeping your friendships. Don’t wait for the other to call you, be first. Don’t always wait for people to invite you, be first. “One thing that really gets in the way of these bonds is when people don’t make time to truly be with their friends,” says Robert Rowney, D.O., a certified psychiatrist and the director of the Cleveland Clinic mood disorder unit. “If you don’t purposefully make time to see them, it can really hinder the friendships overall and it’s one of the main reasons why friendships fall by the wayside.”
Being trustworthy is a trait that is essential for understanding that the deepest relationships are the ones in which we can confide in each other. Trustworthy friends remind you that you are not alone and empower you to be a better person. Being honest – even brutally so – will free you. People remember honesty. Try to be the person others trust because of that honesty. It’s a rare trait we crave these days.
Think of a time where you discovered a person or group of people engaged in gossip with you as the subject. That usually starts when someone betrays a trust and reveals a secret or indiscretion that was not intended for public consumption. This is a betrayal a true friend would never commit. Be the friend that others know will keep things in confidence. Further, if you are among a group of people that decides to take up gossip about someone not present, refuse to participate. People will get the message that you are trustworthy, even if someone you are not at all connected to is involved.
Has anyone noticed that here in the digital age, everyone takes everything everyone says 100% literally and that every word and every action is some sort of referendum of life on Earth that must be dealt with in some sort of jury trial? Or is it just me?
The best friends are simply the ones who know how to make you laugh and who are full of life and spirit. They are the ones who bring you joy, hope, and comfort even in the midst of life’s most difficult situations. Embark on adventures together. Experience life fully. Be silly! Life should be filled with dancing, plenty of stories, and regular antics. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Make sure you take that medicine regularly.
The more we are invested in our relationships, the less we become single-minded and forget about the things that actually matter. Find friends that affirm a conscientious life; who uplift your soul, who are full of life, and who are excited about your new ideas and want to see you through.
When you struggle with the many obstacles life will throw at you, know that you are not alone. Remember the people in your life and actively reach out to them. The investment you make with a friend will enrich both of your lives.