I’m in the middle of two books right now, “The Happiness Project” and “Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit,” and both have just touched on the subject of friendship. And since one of my goals is to spend time nurturing relationships, I found these parts to be particularly salient in my quest to be a better friend. And, by reading those books, I’m knocking out two more goals (Read 18 books and finish the Bible Study I started an embarrassingly long time ago) so… BAM.
Thoughts from “The Happiness Project”:
In her chapter on Friendship, Gretchen Rubin states that “everyone from contemporary scientists to ancient philosophers agree that having strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness.” She goes on to make a list of strategies she can use to be generous in her relationships. I wanted to list them here as both a reminder to myself (I’ll remember them better writing them than I would from reading them).
- Help People Think Big: always encourage your friends in their goals and ambitions. Giving someone some positive strokes and possibly helping them reach accomplishments will both make them feel good and make you feel good. She says that “one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
- Bring People Together: “Studies show that extroverts and introverts alike get a charge out of connecting with others; also, because people are sources of information and resources for one another, if you help bring people together, you provide them with new sources of support.”
- Contribute In My Way: Use my gifts and talents to help my friends. In lieu of giving gifts, use the ones I have to help in some way.
- Cut People Slack: “Remember not to judge people harshly, especially on the first or second encounter. Their actions might not reveal their enduring character but instead reflect some situation they find themselves in. Forbearance is a form of generosity.”
The other key that she talks about is showing up. Be there to celebrate with your friends when something important happens: having a baby, opening a store, new job, etc. Take the time to deepen casual relationships and to confirm closeness with good friends. Also, spend time with those you don’t know as well. “The ‘mere exposure effect’ is the term for the fact that repeated exposure makes you like music, faces–even nonsense syllables– better. The more often you see a person, the more intelligent and attractive you’ll find that person.” And the same goes for their feelings about you.
When making friends: smile more frequently, actively invite others to join a conversation, create a positive mood, open a conversation, try to look accessible and warm, show a vulnerable side and laugh at yourself, show a readiness to be pleased, follow others’ conversational leads and ask questions.
From “Living Beyond Yourself”:
In her daily devotion on Philos: Friend Love, Beth Moore uses scriptures from the book of Luke to encourage us to:
- Place our friends in a high personal position/in high esteem (Luke 14:10)
- Share joy/sadness with our friends- philo love is characterized by shared experience in that the joy of one becomes the joy of all, etc. (Luke 15:8-9)
- A common pursuit or interest can make you friends- this is the adoption of like interests. However, be like Abraham in James 2:23 where he adopted God’s interests as his own instead of like Herod and Pilate in Luke 23:8-12 where the common interests were evil in nature. Be cognizant that the catalyst of friendship is not always positive and be wary of this.
Galatians 6:10 says: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”Philadelphos is Greek for brotherly love- we should strive to show this love to our friends.
God has blessed me with some amazing friends that I definitely don’t want to take for granted.