The Importance of Authentic Friendships

How to find & cultivate real, lasting friendships

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One of the greatest joys in life is the gift of good friendship. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I treasure my own personal friendships immensely. The friendships I have are some of the greatest stress relievers in my life.

Before the age of psychologists and psychiatrists, people reached for their friends to talk over their problems. In many cases, a good friend is all that is needed when you are confronted with the normal stresses of life. Doctors tell us that meaningful relationships and friendships help us live a longer and richer life.

The Mayo Clinic says that friends play a significant role in promoting overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

In the year 2000, the Dalai Lama said to me, “You should only be friends with people who see, who you are, value, and validate you.” And, in fact, you can only be a true friend with people who share your values.

So, it is important not only to have strong friendships, but to find and cultivate authentic friendships that enrich our lives.

Reach out to people with similar interests

To make friendships and relationships rewarding, you must first reach out to others. The best place to look for a friendship is in the areas of your own interests. My mother told me, when I first started to date, that “Prince Charming Charming was not going to come up to my door on a white horse, I was going to have to go out there to find him…so I did.”

The same is true for friendship.You have to go out there to find it. You must override both reticence and shyness. This is a behavior modification model. You have to put yourself out there and reach out to others who have common interests. Great places to start searching for friends with similar interests include: clubs, organizations, churches, synagogues and mosques, meet up groups and online groups.

A true friendship is hard to find, and a strong friendship takes commitment from both parties. In order to make a good friend, you must know how to be a good friend. In my next article, I’ll share some tips on how to develop strong, long-lasting friendships. 

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