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We expect our friends to portray most, if not all of the above, but we have to be prepared to offer the same if we want the friendship to last the passage of time.If you are in the process of making new friends, which of these qualities are you able or willing to bring to the relationship?Can you be a good friend?It takes two to tango, and you can’t expect the other person to offer you the hand of friendship if you aren’t prepared to reciprocate.The point here is to create bonds with people who won’t bail on you when you need them, which is what true friendship really means.Your negative past experiences may have left you feeling distrustful or disappointed, making you cynical about forging new relationships.That is perfectly understandable but you have to get over those negative preconceptions if you want to move forward.Some of your difficulties may lie in the present, believing that everyone else already has a close circle of friends.This can make you hesitant about reaching out to someone, without realizing that many people simply hang out with others so they don’t feel lonely.It could be that you have gotten so used to being alone that you don’t believe you need anyone or can’t break the habit.Many of us will have found ourselves in a strange town, school, neighborhood, or even a social situation at some point in our lives where we knew absolutely no one.Instead of seeing that as a negative, we can use it as an opportunity to get to know people, and once we have begun to forge those new friendships, we can work on making them even stronger.There are some basic requirements of friendship, if it is to stand the test of time.When you think about your old friends, no doubt you will have memories of sharing both the good and bad times.They may have been the only ones to support you, encourage you, and be there to support you when no one else would.Hopefully, you did the same for them, creating a strong bond that you still cherish, even if you have lost touch with them now or aren’t able to meet up with them.Hopefully, you will know what it feels like to have that one person in your life who you can trust without hesitation, someone who you got along with so well that you miss them even today.Befriend yourself first.You know that this is paramount, don’t you?As I’ve said many times before, if you don’t like yourself, it’s going to be tough to get others to like you.Choose your friends wisely.One of my favorite quotes is, Just because you are thirsty, it doesn’t mean that you should drink poison. Being alone is no fun but making bad choices about who you strike up friendships with can be catastrophic.You can choose who to befriend, so make it based on your needs, wants, and likes.Stick around those who give you joy, love, and fulfilment rather than people who bring toxicity into your life.This applies to virtual friends too, who can have just as much impact on how you feel.The people who do like you are the ones to keep in your life.A true friend will allow you to be yourself and accept you as you are, without wanting to change you.By the same token, don’t expect others around you to change or be something they aren’t.This isn’t the foundation for a friendship based on mutual respect and honesty.You may not be able to solve any of your friend’s problems, but you can show that you understand how they feel.Sometimes, that’s all we need in order to feel better, so put yourself in their shoes and let them know you feel for them, even if you can’t fix what’s wrong.Kindness is a very underrated virtue in a world defined by big gestures, money, and status.But it’s the simple acts of kindness that touch others the most because those actions come from the heart and are totally altruistic.You will know how it feels to experience the kindness of others, so be the one to share a kind gesture with a friend and enjoy doing so.You will never regret it.There is nothing more valuable in life than time.I recently read that a true friend is the one who spends time with you even when they would rather be somewhere else.In some ways, that rings true, because friendship requires a certain amount of sacrifice, which may often be your time.By making time for your friends, you are showing how much you really care about them, and that is priceless.Don’t take them for granted.You wouldn’t expect a friend to ask you to abandon your own needs in order to fulfill theirs so don’t do it to them.No one likes to be taken for granted and this leads to a feeling of being used.Show your appreciation for anything a friend brings into your life but respect their boundaries while doing so.They let the other person know how much you appreciate them and you can do it in a number of ways.Leave them a nice message, buy them a small gift, or treat them to dinner.Whatever it is, it will reinforce the bond that you have and show them what a positive difference they make to your life.We don’t always do the right thing, but we can always apologize for that.Being honest about your mistakes and having the courage to say a simple ‘sorry’ is the mark of a true friend.If your friend needs to apologize to you, accept it with grace and let them know you forgive them, instead of making them feel even worse.This is the number 1 reason why many friendships break down, never to be patched up again.If you can’t trust your best friend, who can you trust?When someone confides in you, it is an unspoken rule that you never betray them or break their confidence to anyone.This also applies to more practical issues like turning up on time, collecting those cinema tickets, or doing anything that you have promised to do.True friends won’t abandon you when you need them the most, and you need to be there for them too when they need it.No matter what situation they are in, how bad they are feeling, or what problems they face, being there is the other side of the friendship coin.It’s not only enjoying the good times together but also weathering the storm when things get rough.Respect your differences.Your friend doesn’t have to agree with you on everything or hold the same views.This is the liberating essence of friendship and something you no doubt will appreciate yourself.Letting those differences exist without feeling the need to be right all the time is the best way to avoid conflict and arguments.You don’t always need to give advice, find solutions, or provide feedback.Simply by hearing them out, you are offering them a space to express their worries or concerns, as well as their hopes and dreams.Listen with intent and let them know you hear them, without having to say a word.Celebrate their successes.When your friend achieves something significant in their life, celebrate with them and show genuine happiness for their accomplishments.There is no room for rivalry or jealousy in friendships so enjoy their moment of glory as if it were your own.They will appreciate that more than you know.Accept their choices.Even if they have to move to Australia, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop being friends.Encourage them to pursue their dreams and wish them well, without taking their decision as a kind of personal rejection.If they are a true friend, their happiness is important to you, and vice versa.Setting boundariesOne thing I do want to touch on in relation to bonding with others is to remember that you need to maintain boundaries.Although you want to be there for them and will run at the drop of a hat if they need you to, it’s also crucial that you set boundaries.Just as in any healthy relationship, the dynamic will not work if you allow codependence to form.What does this mean?It’s very easy to let a friendship develop into a codependent relationship in which all borders have disappeared and there are no personal limits.These limits are crucial because they help us to remain independent and able to see to our own needs and feelings.When they don’t exist, we become too dependent on our friends and lose the ability to think and feel for ourselves.You cannot expect any one individual to meet all of your needs and if you do so, this can lead to a loss of identity for both or either of you.Usually, the friendship will shift from one of mutual respect to that of ‘giver’ and ‘taker’ and you could find yourself on either side.Maybe your friend always needs rescuing, or you spend most of your time trying to fix their problems, while your own are ignored.You might begin to feel exhausted after hanging out with them or are unable to find peace of mind as you are too busy meeting their emotional needs.They could rely on you too much, leaving you feeling suffocated and dreading the time you have to spend with them.All of these examples can signal the end of a friendship, so it’s vital to be aware of the dynamic and change the relationship if you feel the need to.Think about how you got here.When did you or your friend start to manifest these codependent tendencies?Was it triggered by something specific or were warning signs there from the beginning?Practice the act of putting yourself first.See to your own needs and wants first.Explain to your friend how you feel and see if you can work together to reset the balance.If that isn’t possible, then the friendship may not be sustainable.Good friends will stick with each other through thick and thin, but won’t be totally dependent on the other.Seek to create friendships with healthy boundaries in which both of you are aware of each others’ needs.That authentic, trusting connection will mature over time, based on mutual respect and a genuine desire to see the other person is happy and fulfilled.Be there when needed and ask the same in return, safe in the knowledge that you have an unshakeable bond that truly enriches your life.Good friends come in all shapes and sizes and if the bond is strong enough, it will last forever.They bring a unique quality to our lives, helping to shape the people we are today and often determining the people we will become.When I think about the friends I have now, I am very conscious of the fact that I don’t dedicate enough of my time and energy to them.This is probably something we all have in common, as our busy lives get in the way of spending quality moments with those we love to be around.It’s all about how much effort we make and what results we expect to get for our endeavors, so stay with me as we delve into how to make the most of our treasured friendships.Being a good friend demands specific qualities and actions.Friendships are built when we understand what being a friend means.Follow the 15 pointers to create strong friendships.Setting boundaries avoids codependent relationships.There are ways to establish and maintain healthy friendships.He was a really outgoing, chatty guy, who was obviously very passionate about his job and we got talking about where he was from, his background, and so on.Jake told me that, although he had a lot of friends, work prevented him from hanging out with them as much as he would have liked.He also confessed that some of them didn’t even get in touch with him anymore because he was always turning down their offers to meet up.It turns out that Jake was spending most of his time building his business and neglecting his friends, leaving him feeling frustrated and desperate to turn things around, although he didn’t know how.You may have the exact same problem yourself, putting all of your energy into your career, or even your family, leaving no time to invest in your relationships.After a while, you might notice that they stop calling you, don’t message you as often, or aren’t available when you finally have time to meet up with them.The thing is, people aren’t accessories that we can put on or discard when we feel like it.We need to give time to any relationship if we want to sustain it, and this applies just as much to friendships as it does to our relationship with a spouse, partner, children, or other family members.So, how exactly do we make the most of our time and commit to nurturing friendships when our work/life balance is heavily out of sync?One way to approach this, I have found works for me is by using something called the Pareto Principle.It’s an idea named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noticed back in 1895 that about 80% of Italy’s land belonged to 20% of the country’s population.Since then, the principle has been used mainly in the business world, focusing on the fact that 80% of results or consequences come from 20% of effort or causes.The Pareto Principle is also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity.Simply put, all it really means is that 20% of your efforts will probably lead to 80% of your success in many spheres of life.Obviously, your friends are important to you and whether you are trying to make new ones, or hold on to those already established, the 80/20 rule will give you the tools to do so, no matter what your circumstances are.If you are always trying to impress, talk too much, or are overbearing, and you’re not getting the results you want, notice how unsuccessful this kind of behavior is and cease doing it.On the other hand, how many new friends have you made by offering a good ear, talking less, and showing empathy?I think your answer to that will tell you exactly why the 80/20 rule is so useful.Looking at your relationships using the 80/20 modelLet’s say that you have connected with a few new people and would like to deepen your friendship with them.You want to get to know them better and also want them to get to know you.What’s the best way to do this using the 80/20 rule?Begin by asking yourself the following questions.You don’t need a calculator or have to start counting fractions.Of all the people you know, who are the five to ten people you spend the most time with?Does spending time with these people make you a better or a worse person?Pick the one or two people you enjoy being with the most.These are the 20% who make up 80% of your social engagement and are probably the most interesting and fun people to be with.Spend more time with the 20% who make your life better, and less time with the 80% who don’t.Once you have a clearer idea in your mind about who you enjoy being around and those who makes you less happy, then you can begin to work on resetting the balance.Take the time to do an 80/20 analysis on your current and potential friends to make sure that you’re building relationships with the right people, otherwise, it really is a waste of your time.How can you build on those relationships?Our time is so limited, isn’t it?When we do have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves, we want to make sure it’s with the right people.That requires us to make conscious decisions that will help us to use our time wisely.Although the 80/20 principle isn’t only about time management, it can be useful to apply it in this way once we have established our needs and goals.Jake, for example, had very little free time.By his own admission, he had become somewhat of a workaholic, clocking up 12 hours a day or more on his projects.I asked him how productive he was working so many hours.He thought about it for a while and finally admitted that he didn’t really feel that motivated or inspired when it got to 7 or 8 in the evening.Basically, he was less productive as the day went on.If he had only applied the Pareto Principle to his working life, he could have worked fewer hours but have been more focused on what he was doing, resulting in a better performance.


Last edited by William Jones