Monday, September 23, 2013

Making New Friends

Making new friends
It was easy in kindergarten – all you had to do was save someone a seat in class and you had a BFF. How do you reach out to make new connections as an adult?
Having friends is not the sole preserve of confident people who collect connections like postage stamps. Everyone is looking for something different in a friendship, so simply being your friendly, loving self is the first step. Secondly, you need to get out of the house and amongst people regularly. A tried-and-true strategy is take up an activity that you are passionate about. That way, you not only learn new things, but you connect with people that you have something in common with, which is a grand starting point for a friendship. If you have ever toyed with the idea of yoga, life drawing, or glass-making, now is the time to enrol in a class.
Be open to opportunity
Woody Allen said it best: “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” This is absolutely the case when it comes to making new friends. Whenever you have the chance to mix with other people, go. Accept all invitations, and just show up. Don’t worry about sticking your neck out and issuing an invitation, either. A simple “I’m new in town and would love someone to show me a good cafe,” should suffice. If they say no, just try again with someone else. Hanging out with someone who isn’t shy can also help. Japanese researchers found that students entering university who were paired with a ‘surrogate’ – their word for a confident person with many established friends – were far more likely to have a group of friends of their own at the end of the six-month association.
Be conscious of the messages you send. If you walk around avoiding eye contact, you’re sending a strong signal that you want to be left alone. If, however, you smile and say hello to strangers, you’re letting people know you are open to connecting. Eating out alone makes you more visible, and lets you feel as though you are beginning to be part of a community. Don’t be self-conscious – find a nice café, and just hang out. A book or newspaper gives both you and passers-by an opportunity to comment. Another tip is to pay compliments. If someone does engage in a chat, thank them and tell them why it’s made your day. It doesn’t just make them feel good – research shows that giving someone a compliment releases endorphins that increase feelings of trust and happiness in both the giver and the recipient.
We humans are social creatures who need to connect – we are not wired to live in total isolation. Ancient philosophers and modern scientists agree: strong social ties are the key to happiness. Studies prove that people with five or more friends are happier than those with fewer friends, plus they are less likely to get sick. One long-term study even found that the strength of a person’s social network was a stronger indicator of their lifespan than their physical state of health.

Source : Nature and Health



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