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Having friends makes you more active as you take part in outdoor events, go walking, play sports, or plan other activities together.This is vital for your physical health, as well as being much more fun than sitting at home alone.It’s important to relieve stress and spending time with friends can do that.You can have a moan about your job or the kids, and immediately feel better afterward.Bottling everything up inside you is a surefire way to accrue large amounts of harmful stress for body and soul.One other advantage to having friends is that they will often talk more sense than we do when we feel emotionally charged.They help us to calm down when we cannot do it ourselves, acting as a stop valve for irrational or destructive behavior.We are all capable of going to a football match alone, but it’s so much more fun when we share the experience.Spending your leisure time with friends brings more value to each moment and gives your life extra purpose and meaning.This is essential for a healthy mindset, even if your favorite team loses!Having a Confidante.Being able to share your deepest thoughts, emotions, and even secrets can be very liberating.Friends offer a space where you can express yourself, safe in the knowledge that your confidence won’t be breached.Trust and loyalty are essential in any relationship but in a friendship, they are a crucial prerequisite and without them, the pact will inevitably break down.We need people to be honest with us, even if it doesn’t feel too pleasant at the time.A good friend will tell you the truth, no matter how much it is going to hurt, because they have your best interests at heart in the long run.If your partner is cheating on you, or your new outfit looks awful, wouldn’t you rather hear it from a friend than from a stranger?Personal Encouragement.Good friends will help you to achieve your goals by giving you constant encouragement.When you find yourself losing hope or becoming disillusioned, they will be the ones to spur you on to the finish line.Friends will be there to congratulate you when you reach the end and even if you fail, they will coax you into reaching for new goals and dreams.Making friends and maintaining those friendships needs a lot of give and take on both sides.It can be a learning process in which we grow and mature, coming to terms with our faults and allowing ourselves to improve and be a better person.Through friendships, we also acquire better social skills and learn how to communicate more effectively with those around us.When you are with friends, you don’t feel the need to be anyone other than who you truly are.This allows you to be free of social restraints and criticism, where you can speak your mind and express your opinions openly.True friends will like you no matter what you think or believe, even if they don’t agree with you.They have also seen you at your best and your worst and still like you, warts and all!They say that man’s best friend is a dog because it loves its owner unconditionally, and they are probably right.If you can form friendships with people who love you without expecting anything back in return, then you have discovered the secret to what a true friend is.You may be loved by your family, which is great, but the unconditional love of a friend isn’t linked to blood ties or from any sense of responsibility.It is pure, unadulterated friendship.Friends help you to enjoy life more.Together, you can do fun activities, laugh, joke, and spend time doing the things you both love.This is an essential bonding experience that contributes to forming lifetime friendships with fond memories as their foundations.Laughter is also extremely good for you and letting your hair down now and again is the best kind of therapy there is.Having friends increases your sense of belonging and combats feelings of social isolation and loneliness.You may have few or no family members, and therefore, friends can often be a genuine substitute and kindred spirit.They will also help you to deal with trauma, pain, loss, and illness, providing you the support that you need to deal with all of the challenges in life.It’s all about having real connections with people that you like who, in turn, like you.This is a mutual bond that knows no limits.Both boy and bear would pass the day conversing about what being friends means, exchanging wisdom that still carries great weight today.Quotes such as, A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside, reveal just how bitter the absence of a friend can be in our lives.Friends come in all shapes and sizes and friendships can be struck up between the most unsuspecting people.Mark Twain and Helen Keller, T.S Eliot and Groucho Marx, Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe spring to mind.But there are also lots of fictional besties from pop culture who we love because of their undying devotion to each other and unconditional love.Great friendships, wherever they come from, stand the test of time and we love these characters because we understand what they give to each other the gift of friendship.Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the popular American sitcom ‘Friends’ was such a big hit.It allowed us, the audience, to take part in the lives of a group of good friends and experience all of their ups and downs from the safety of our homes.It was fun, entertaining, had some great characters, and covered life’s problems so well.Why seek real friends when we have Joey or Rachel to rely on, right?The beauty and power of the show lay in its portrayal of genuine, platonic love, which is something that many of us seem to be missing today.It’s very common for young children to have ‘imaginary friends’.In fact, up to 65% of children below the age of 7 are reported to have had an imaginary companion, making it pretty normal behavior.My eldest son had an invisible friend until about the age of 4, which seemed strange at first but we got used to it.We had to set an extra dinner plate for his ‘friend’, and leave an empty chair for him to sit on.When my second son came along and reached the toddler stage, my eldest son now had a real person to amuse himself with and his invisible friend eventually stopped showing up for dinner.What does this phenomenon tell us about the basic human desire to have friends?Maybe quite a lot, with researchers mentioning things such as meeting a child’s need for support, companionship, and entertainment.As parents, we can provide all three but having friends to do that just seems to be much more fun.You don’t need to have hundreds of friends –quality is obviously better than quantity.Even if you have a long list of people you know, having one or two people who you can count on through thick and thin is more meaningful than lots of ‘superficial’ acquaintances.As I mentioned in the Introduction, I’m not going to tell you that you need to go out today and start hunting today for the perfect friend.What I will tell you instead is that you can find friends anywhere, anytime.There will always be opportunities to make new friends, no matter at what stage of your life you find yourself in.That’s the most important step you need to take because if you don’t know how to be a good friend, how can you expect to find one?No other relationship can offer you the same merits as true friendship.Friends meet a basic human need for companionship and support.Real friends are essential if you want to avoid the negative effects of loneliness and social isolation.Friends help you to stay healthy and live longer.Having friends helps you to mature and develop as a person.A true friend allows you to be your true self.Friends bring purpose, meaning, and enjoyment to life.Friendship is based on unconditional love and mutual respect.There are always opportunities to make new friends.If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce.If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.It would be very easy for me to say that the best way to find new friends is to go out more, but it’s a lot more complicated than that.You can be in a room filled with 100 people and still find yourself unable to strike up a conversation with any of them.If you remember my zumba class, I had plenty of opportunities to get to know others better, but I didn’t.Hanging out at bars or joining gyms is not always the solution, although I’m not suggesting that you stay locked up at home either.What I really mean is that, just because you go to parties, bars, or take up a hobby, it doesn’t guarantee you will make friends any easier if you don’t know how to.Some people have a knack for getting on with others wherever they go and find it easy to talk to total strangers, although that isn’t a sign they have a lot of good friends.My advice is not to hunt for friends whenever you go out because you are setting yourself up for disappointment.Friends will come to you, at the right time, in the right place.It’s quite an organic process that you definitely can’t force, although you can do certain things to up your chances of connecting with people who you may create friendships with.But first, let’s address where you are going wrong.Why don’t you have any friends?This is a good time to think about why you haven’t made any new friends recently.It could be that you are pushing people away, even though you aren’t fully aware of it.I realized that I wasn’t giving off the right vibes when going to the gym, as if I had put a wall up between myself and the outside world.In effect, I didn’t give the appearance of being friendly, so no one felt like approaching me.I couldn’t see it at the time because I was too involved in the daily grind and routine.It starts with the way you present yourself.Are you smiling or sullen?Welcoming or intimidating?Arms crossed or open?We learn how to read body language and facial expressions of others way before we learn how to read and write, and we respond appropriately.A baby can distinguish between a smiley face and a sad one from as early as five months old.You are more likely to keep away from them if you know what’s good for you.We don’t necessarily act this way intentionally.It can often be a defense mechanism because we want to protect ourselves.Those emotions could go back to your school days or be a result of present circumstances.It may be that painful memories of not being picked for the school swimming team are still with you, and you haven’t been able to resolve that feeling of rejection.You certainly don’t want to stick your neck out and risk getting rejected again.In essence, you project everything that you feel inside to the world outside.Those assumptions have more to do with how you feel about yourself than any reality.It is particularly obvious in a social setting, where you don’t feel worthy of love and respect.You prefer to keep your head down because you tell yourself that you aren’t that interesting.This can also make you appear aloof and distant not the way to attract friends by any means.What is my body language telling others?How often do I smile at other people?Is my behavior still affected by a bad experience from my past?How friendly do I look?Once you have thought about the above points, you will have a better idea of how your emotions and mindset are influencing the way you come across to others.It’s a great start to understanding what you need to change so that you give off nothing but positive, friendly vibes from now on.Where can I find new friends?Friendships can be formed under the most unusual circumstances, at the most unexpected moment, with people we may never have thought were ‘our type’.I think that a lot of us are under the wrong impression that in order to make new friends, we have to go to parties, join clubs, take up a sport, or become a member of an interest group.This really isn’t the case because it’s one thing to meet new people and quite another to know how to form friendships.In actual fact, you don’t have to go very far or take up some extreme sport in order to find friends.They may be right in front of you and you just can’t see them.Think about your daily routine and as you do so, consider the opportunities for making new friends.It all depends on your age and circumstances so I have created a sample profile for you to get the idea.Let me introduce you to Steve.Each morning, Steve takes the same bus to work, alongside the same commuters.He has 3 work colleagues, all of whom are married with children.He speaks to several clients throughout the day either by phone or in person, some of whom are regular customers.He visits the same coffee shop each lunchtime as it is near to the office.Steve is young, active, working, and a nice guy.But he feels very lonely.What would you recommend that he does to find new friends, based on the information above?As you can see, there are ample chances for him to create a rapport with someone, from the moment he steps out of his house.He could strike up a casual conversation with a fellow commuter on his daily bus route.He could make an effort to get to know his colleagues more.Even though they all have children, they may have nephews, nieces, or siblings nearer to Steve’s age that he could be introduced to.Some of his regular clients may now know him by name and if he engages in friendly conversation with them, he is creating a window of possibility to develop friendships outside of work.His local coffee shop probably serves the same clients, at the same time as Steve goes there, every weekday.That is another opportunity to strike up a conversation with one of the regulars.

Last edited by William Jones