Deepening Friendships: The Art of Give and Take
“Abundance is a dance with reciprocity—what we can give, what we can share, and what we receive in the process.” —Terry Tempest Williams
We’ve discussed finding friends quite a lot over the first four lessons, and now it’s time to consider a new topic: deepening your friendships.
If You Want Solid Friendships…
Most of us have experienced a friendship in which the other person was, for lack of a better word, flaky. These friends would promise but not deliver, sympathize but not help, and routinely choose frivolous pursuits over necessary ones. This overall pattern indicates that they don’t see commitment as important; in other words, they don’t look for ways to keep the friendship healthy.
Alternatively, let’s follow a thread we’ve been pursuing through most of our lessons and turn the question around. Are we guilty of being flaky friends?
Maybe you immediately think of an episode where you let someone down or behaved selfishly instead of being helpful. Don’t beat yourself up too much, even if you can think of a few times like that. Everyone has made choices they later regret.
If, when looking back on your past relationships, you realize that these issues are more systemic than isolated, take heart. It’s never too late to realize your mistakes, apologize, and start over.
Solid as a Rock
So how can you be a solid friend? There are a few foundational principles that essentially define being a solid friend. Take a look, and think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
• Solid friends are reliable. They show up when, and where, they say they will.
• Solid friends are positive. They look for the best in others.
• Solid friends are productive. They develop themselves and believe in the development of others.
• Solid friends are generous. They genuinely celebrate when good things happen to others.
• Solid friends are fair. They hold themselves and others to the same (high) standards.
Give as Good as You Get
If you’re fortunate enough to have one or more really solid friends, that is terrific. Even if that’s not yet the case, start today on being a solid friend yourself.
Keep your word.
Develop your own potential, and celebrate the potential you see in others.
Not only is this good for your character, but it will also attract people with similar characteristics. Like attracts like!
So, Would You Want to Be Your Friend?
As you cultivate the qualities of a good friend, keep in mind that no one is perfect. Don’t expect to fix every bit of selfishness, inattention, or lack of motivation you find in yourself overnight. It’s far better to tackle one thing at a time so that you don’t overextend yourself.
For example, you might realize that when other people are speaking to you, you often hear but do not listen. Recognizing this as selfish, you can choose to work on your listening skills. You can find a good book on listening, and practice listening mindfully whenever someone speaks to you.
If you take just one item at a time, you will see greater results than if you focus your attention on too many areas of personal growth at once.
Look over your previous journal entries and the bullet points above listing habits of solid friends. Reflect on these. If you haven’t already, choose just one aspect of self-improvement to work on, write it in your journal and come up with one step you can take to begin working on it.
Thanks for joining us! In our next lesson, we will discuss the different “tiers” of friendship and how they can help you live a more meaningful life.
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