What makes a perfect friendship? How do we find and keep friends that encourage and strengthen who we are? How do we maintain friendships with the demands of our jobs, family, and other responsibilities?
Reflect on the most meaningful friendships in your life. Think of that person who you can call at any time of the day when you need some advice, are feeling down, or when you just need a good laugh. Although Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow us to be constantly updated with our friends’ latest posts, we have to remember to sign out of our accounts and pick up the phone and call each other.
We need to make a greater effort in our very busy lives to find ways to connect face to face with friends. Although the demands of life will call for constant attention, friends are the ones that provide both spiritual and mental renewal. They are the ones who give hope in life’s most difficult situations, help to de-stress your life, and provide affirmation of your life’s path. When you and your friends are investing in a conscientious relationship, meaningfulness often follows.
7 Traits of Friendship that Affirm a Conscientious Life:
1. Friends who are empathetic. Being empathetic is the ability to actively try and take yourself out of your own shoes and put yourself in someone else’s. Too often we listen to a friend’s struggle and immediately make it about ourselves by adding our own experiences. Sometimes, the greatest thing friends can do is just actively listen to each other.
2. Friends who are selfless. Our friends who are the most happy and positive are the ones who are grounded, who care, and who do not always think about themselves. They are able to understand their own life experience but are not consumed by their own problems. Instead, they take action to help solve the problems of others.
3. Friends who are trustworthy. Being trustworthy is a trait that is essential for understanding that the deepest relationships are the ones in which we can confide in each other. Trustworthy friends remind you that you are not alone and empower you to be a better person.
4. Friends with shared interests. Whether this pertains to hobbies, sports, goals, education, values, or religion, we often prefer spending time with people who enjoy the same things as we do. This allows for immediate connection and ultimately strengthens our relationships.
5. Friends with different perspectives and backgrounds. The time you can truly grow as a human being, both professionally and personally, is when you have the opportunity to listen to people who are different from you. Sometimes, you remain in a fixed mindset when you hang around people who just agree with you or who do the same things as you. Friends who offer new perspectives, ideas, experiences, and advice can help you learn more about yourself and will help you grow as a more well rounded human being. Friends of diverse backgrounds have the ability to transform a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.
6. Friends who are humorous. The best friends are simply the ones who know how to make you laugh and who are full of life and spirit. They are the ones who bring you joy, hope, and comfort even in the midst of life’s most difficult situations.
7. Friends who are a team player. A trait we learned as children but one in which we often forget. Being a team player and putting the needs of others before ourselves for a shared goal is what friendship is all about. Communicating, collaborating, and active listening are all essential traits that make the most successful teams unstoppable forces.
Contacting friends should not be a burden or put on a to-do list. Make a conscious effort to integrate communicating with friends a part of your routine. Whether it is calling a friend on your way home from work, setting aside one evening a month to get together, or designating at least once a year to reconnect, even these small changes can have a profound influence on your overall mood and well-being. Friends help you to maintain and strengthen healthy relationships as you balance those with your co-workers and family members who may demand a lot from you.
So put down your phones in the presence of your friends and sign out of your social networks. Surrounding yourself with friends who embody these traits will allow you to step away from the mobile social notifications of life and find solace in each other to create meaning in the precious time you have together.
The more we are invested in our relationships, the less we become single-minded and forget about the things that actually matter. Find friends that affirm a conscientious life; who uplift your soul, who are full of life, and who are excited about your new ideas and want to see you through.
When you struggle with the many obstacles life will throw at you, know that you are not alone. Remember the people in your life and actively reach out to them. The investment you make with a friend will enrich both of your lives.
Greta Gleissner is the Founder of Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists, a nationwide network of eating disorder treatment specialists that provide meal coaching and recovery skills such as CBT, DBT, ACT, MI, etc. EDRS works alongside treatment programs, teams and families to provide transitional aftercare support for post-residential treatment clients.