Because they are worth it

Because they are worth it

Remember those golden days when you shared your lunch box with friends at school, passed secret-notes in the class and played hide-and-seek at recess? All it took was a cheering pat on the back for your lips to break into a smile, even when you were certain that the whole world was against you.

Life looked incredible, thanks toprofound friendship laced with lovable hugs, harmless teasing and friendly nudges.

Back then, you had pledged that your friendship will never fade; it will only grow better with time. You’ll always enjoy each other’s company, laugh together and share elated high-fives. Alas! That’s not how things turned out. You can’t even remember how long it has been since you last spoke to your best buddy. Your BFF has turned into a stranger.

It takes a lot of work and commitment to keep friends. Strong friendships need whole-hearted investment. If you’re like most busy people, devoting time for old friends may seem challenging.

But remember that everything that is valuable needs care and maintenance – your health, car, home, relationships.Psychologists affirm that strong social commitments such as friendships make life happy and complete.

Friends provide you support and appreciation, even as they fulfill the need for attachment and acceptance. According to a study conducted by Flinders Centre for Ageing Studies, Australia, keeping good friends may help you live longer.

Psychologists maintain that as social animals, human beings have evolved living in groups, protecting and helping each other. It’s, therefore, not surprising that we feel relaxed with friends, which in turn
promotes better health.


But do 50 ‘likes’ on Facebook equal to an hour spent chatting with friends over lunch? Researchers suggest that social networking doesn’t mean closer relationships with online friends. The most engaging relationships ensue when you hangout, laugh and talk face-to-face. “A smiley emoticon is cute, but my best friend’s wide grin and smiling eyes are irreplaceable,” says Chinmay P, a sophomore at a medical college.

You reveled in their company right from childhood; they became the centre of your universe. Yet, before you could realise it, you slowly drifted away. Studies, work, spouse, kids, among millions of other things, became your priorities.

The flower of friendship has been steadily shrivelling and today, you feel all alone. Yes, it’s sad. But now is the time to make amends, to reach out and re-connect with long-lost buddies.

Make an effort: Just like you set aside time to maintain your car or home, slice out time each week or month to keep in touch with your friends. Watch your
spirits soar when you put your friend’s name on the calendar. Make a
commitment to call, email or do a fly-by hello. True friends pick-up from where they left off. If your friends live in the same city, watch a movie together, go
hiking or invite them over for dinner.

Don’t keep scores: It doesn’t matter if the friend hasn’t called you in a while. You can make that call. Don’t waste time worrying about who made the last call or sent a birthday card. Perhaps, your life is less complicated than your friend’s.
People go through different phases in life.

Accept and appreciate: Don’t expect your friends to change for you. Accept them for who they are. Try to see the world from their perspective. Special friendships need not have a lot of things in common. The more you accept each other, there’s less likelihood of you setting unrealistic expectations. Invest time and emotions in the relationship and let your friendship take its own course – accepting and appreciating idiosyncrasies.

 
Show you care: We all need to feel special and important – it’s part of human nature. Remember important events and days in your friend’s life and show your love in some meaningful way. “My friend has always been thoughtful and caring. I cherish her gifts because she makes an effort to find the perfect ones for me. It makes me feel very special,” shares Preetha S, a database administrator. “She loves perfumes and I always get one for her when I travel abroad,” she adds.

Be there: As somebody rightly said, “True friendship is when two friends walk in opposite directions, yet walk side by side.” Tuning into what your friend says without being judgmental is one of the key ways to nurture a friendship. Don’t you feel better after you ramble about your frustrations to a friend? We all need an ear to listen.

Remember, your friend doesn’t really expect you to offer a solution when she shares her problems or concerns. Don’t listen with the intent to reply, but with a resolve to understand your friend’s situation. Look out for verbal and nonverbal cues from the
conversation. Your friend will only feel worse if you start talking about your own problems instead of paying attention to what she is saying. Offer your opinion only when asked for.


Respect the golden rule: Insensitivity ruins friendships. Treat your friends the way you want to be treated. “When I met one of my friends a few months ago, I had just lost my job. She knew about it, yet made no attempt to comfort me. How hard is it to offer a word or two of sympathy?” asks Liz C, a homemaker.


In sensitive situations, take a moment to consider how you’d expect your friend to behave if the roles were reversed. A simple change in perspective can strengthen your friendship.

Go the distance: Does your friendship span across oceans? Don’t let rivers, mountains or valleys come in between your friendship. Make a commitment to catch up with your friend every week or month. Stay connected, whether on email, instant chat, phone calls or video chat.

Be realistic, yet intentional when you both live in different time zones. Write a snail-mail or send personalised hand-made things to your friend overseas. Nothing beats the impact of a personal letter or a small package when technology rules every moment of our lives.

“I treasure the handwritten cards that my friend sends me every Diwali,” says Preetha. Though visiting each other may be expensive, you can plan meeting halfway, which saves both money and time.

As Winnie the Pooh says, “You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
It’s worth the effort. You’ll wish you’d done it more often.

P.S. If you need an excuse to  celebrate with your friends, tomorrow’s Friendship Day!

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