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How to cultivate genuine friendships?

Numerous studies, such as the one by Harvard, have highlighted the critical role played by relationships in our lives. Let us talk about one such category of relationships — friendships. You have seen movies and sitcoms on friendships, right? Sex and the City, Grace and Frankie, The Intouchables….While many people seem to have the right approach to cultivating […]

Numerous studies, such as the one by Harvard, have highlighted the critical role played by relationships in our lives. Let us talk about one such category of relationships — friendships. You have seen movies and sitcoms on friendships, right? Sex and the City, Grace and Frankie, The Intouchables….

While many people seem to have the right approach to cultivating lasting friendships, many others struggle with getting beyond ‘friends for the evening’. So, let us discuss a few traits that make friendships deep, lasting and meaningful.

In order to get the most from the article, it might benefit if you come with an open mind and let go off any gremlin talk in your head. The gremlin talk might sound like one of these — ‘only friendships worth holding on to are the ones made early in life’; ‘friendships are just a social form of networking’, or the best one ‘deep friendships do not really exist, most are superficial’.
Now let us dive in the characteristics we can cultivate to develop and nurture lasting friendships:

Vulnerability……
We live in a culture which applauds putting our best self forward on social media and social gatherings, irrespective of how we really feel. When asked perfunctorily how we are doing, we are rarely encouraged to answer honestly. The thick personal boundary we are taught to create around us to emanate a healthy self, is the biggest deterrent to meaningful connections.
Being able to articulate issues, get advice or guidance and be comfortable with vulnerability — these are the strongest gateways to deeper connections. Challenge today is accepting that life may not be all roses and being comfortable saying that out loud! No one has their shit figured out!
Many people are scared of dipping the mood of the party by talking honestly.

Look at those situations as an opportunity to be your authentic self, even if it means losing some people who cannot deal with that side of you. Which gets me to our second characteristic

Minimalism…..

We love or want to love this word, don’t we? Minimalism starts from our mind and our activities and is not just limited to our wardrobe. Take some time during the year to take a stock of how some relationships in your life make you feel.

Ask the famous Mary Kondo question, does this friendship spark joy? Once you are able to feel the answer, exhibit the courage to accept and move on. Just as we practice spring or winter cleaning for our closets, it is important to clean out our social lives too.

People will come and go, but those in alignment with who you are will stay. You have a reserve of energy and sometimes it is wise to not give a fuck

Genuine care and interest…..
Deeper connections stem from a genuine and authentic interest in someone’s life and well-being. Such an interest goes beyond ‘making conversation’.

I would encourage you to be present with the person and take a genuine interest in their life. You can do that by asking honest question.

For people with whom you do feel a slight connection, channel that genuine care and look out for that person. Friends in my life do this often by sending me quotes that help me through a stage in life, sharing jokes that resonate with my life, dropping by to meet me sometimes when they sense I might need a friend.

All these little gestures make me feel that they see me as this unique person and understand who I am — including my likes, dislikes, interests. It is very rewarding once you practice.

I would go on to say that the best way to spark joy in your life is to enable joy in the life of others

Acceptance and respect….

No two people are or will be alike. When you do start developing stronger friendships, many differences will come to the fore. Leverage these instances as an opportunity to remember the person behind the quirks and practice acceptance. More importantly, respect them for who they are.
My girlfriends are as diverse as they come. I am the spiritual nomad of the group, girlfriend 1 is a true active New Yorker with a full schedule, girlfriend 3 is stubbornly happy go lucky.

We do not have all the same interests, but we show genuine interest in what we all like. We accept each other along with our quirks and I think they are the some of the best humans I have met!

So where does that bring us….

Deep, meaningful and loving friendships are profound and can benefit your mental health positively. Just as all good things require some attitudinal shifts and work, so does developing these deeper connections. Hope you take a moment to thank the deep connections in your life today and confront the mental patterns that might be hindering development of genuine bonds
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