“In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds. “ -Aristotle

August 6, 2020

Hey there! I hope you’re doing well! It’s no secret that one of the most important parts of life and it’s enjoyment are the people you choose to surround yourself with. Sometimes you get lucky and you have a family member you grow up with that’s close to your age, like a cousin or family friend, but sometimes it seems like real friends are just hard to come by…but are they?

When I look back to my childhood, I remember distinctly the first day of school jitters and the uncertainty that comes with a new situation. This year more than ever it will be a challenge, especially for those kids that are a little “shy”.

Even as adults it’s sometimes hard to make friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day craziness of work and kids and forget to make time for friends and relationships. We really need to make this a priority. Here are 4 simple ways to not only make new friends but nurture the ones you already have!

Here are 4 real ways to make friends  that I wish I would have known when I was a kid. (Works for adults too!)

  1. Listening – The first one is listening. Maybe it’s just me but when I’m put in a difficult situation, I tend to talk more and this is absolutely the WRONG way to go. The reality is that we all want someone to really listen to us. I mean really listen, not the kind of listening that involves checking your phone while you’re pretending to listen. A sure way to feel ignored and feel like your opinion and what you say doesn’t matter to the other person, is when their eyes and their thoughts are focused on something else. 

The truth is that nowadays it’s a rare conversation that you feel like you have the other person’s undivided attention. So, be that person. Be the person that really listens, not the person that is thinking about what to say as soon as the other person stops talking. Be genuine. Listen with the intention to show the other person that you’re listening and that their thoughts and feelings are important. 

  1. Ask questions. The second is asking questions. Let’s face it, most people love to talk about themselves and what they like to do. Asking someone else questions about themselves is a wonderful way to not only learn about someone else, but to take away the attention from yourself. When you’re nervous about a new situation, taking the attention away from you and onto others is a wonderful way to learn about someone else. You never know, you may find that you have more in common than you think!
  1. Be yourself. The last and most important way to make long lasting friendships is to find the people that you feel most free to be yourself. If you find yourself in a group where you are trying to be someone that you’re not, or trying to say things or do things to fit in to that don’t feel right to you, chances are this friendship or group is not something you should pursue. Knowing who is not a real friend is almost more important than figuring out who is. Remember it’s not the quantity of friends you have it’s always the quality. 
  1. Be generous- I don’t mean be monetarily generous. I mean generous with your time. If a friend extends an invitation, don’t just show up, show up on time and plan for the next time! If your friend is going through a difficult life circumstance, show up, send a note and be there when they need you. Life has a funny way of going in all different directions, and sometimes you only get one chance to show up, so SHOW UP! 

Many of the problems in the modern world are traced to unhappiness.  Research suggests that we are overlooking the importance of friendship in these real world problems.

In fact, studies show that adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of health problems such as depression, high blood pressure and elevate BMI (obesity). Studies have even shown that adults with strong social support, live longer than those who don’t. 

So whether you’re a child or an adult, the importance of friendship is universal. Make it a priority in your life. Nurture your friendships, put yourself in situations to meet new people and make the effort to reach out to people that you are interested in getting to know better. 

Be open minded too!! Try to meet different kinds of people! Don’t limit your reach to people that look and think like you! Your life will be richer if you broaden your circle and your choice of friends!

Remember sitting at home waiting for someone to call you or invite you somewhere is not going to work!

I know for a fact that you have so much to offer, the secret is believing this for yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for fear of rejection. Be more afraid of not doing so and finding yourself alone. 

Have a wonderful week!!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D

If you are having significant trouble making friends, or maybe your child is, here are some signs and symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:

-Blush, sweat, tremble, rapid heart rate or mind turning blank

-feeling nauseous or sick to their stomach

-rigid body posture, little eye contact or speaking with an overly soft voice

-find it scary to talk to people you don’t know even if you want to 

-feeling self conscious and awkward in front of others

-being afraid that others will judge you

-staying away from places where others are

If you or someone you love has some of the above symptoms, it would be worth discussing this with your doctor. Studies show that with early intervention, many have been able to overcome these feelings and find meaningful relationships and friendships in their life. 

P.S- As always share this with a friend or someone you know! You never know who needs to read this too! Thank you for reading!

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