For 2019 I’m Dedicating My Time To Building Stronger Friendships

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The old proverb that “friends are the flowers in the garden of life” couldn’t be truer. On one hand, friendships can be like a beam of light in the darkness of the daily grind. They provide laughter, color, and happiness and can be a respite from everyday stresses. On the other hand, like flowers, they take care and attention in order for them to thrive.

Unlike other more transient relationships, a good friendship can be like an anchor in difficult times and one of the few things in life you don’t have to worry about. In fact, studies have shown that people with strong friendships report higher levels of overall health and happiness as they age. And although there are tons of articles out there giving advice on how to make new friends as an adult, it’s also important to nurture the relationships you already have. What better time than the new year to closely examine your friendships and find ways to fortify the bonds you already have.

In light of this, we’ve compiled a list of ways to improve your relationships with your friends in 2019 and beyond

1. Take Time to Listen


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It may be true that humans value good conversation, but arguably, they value good listeners even more. There’s nothing people want more than to be acknowledged that their thoughts and feelings matter, and there’s no better way to communicate that than to offer a sympathetic ear. In the new year, try to talk less, ask more questions, and actively listen to what your friends have to say. You’ll both be happier for it.


2. Remember Birthdays

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It may seem like a small gesture to make among the hundreds of interactions we have with our friends throughout the year, but it means so much. Birthdays, although they’re meant to be happy occasions, can be stressful. It’s the one day of the year when you have to reflect upon how many people are thinking about you. So when our friends forget our birthdays, we inevitably feel a little hurt. At the beginning of the year, mark all of your friends’ birthdays in your phone and set reminders for a week before (in order to prepare) and the day of their special day. Because birthdays matter more than you think.


3.Check In Often


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As we get farther into our careers and more absorbed in our own individual lives, its common to lose touch with friends or “drift apart”. Sometimes, it can even embarrassing to reach out to an old friend after months of silence. It’s easy to feel ashamed or disappointed in yourself that you let a relationship languish. The best way to combat this is to periodically check in with your friends. A simple “how’s it going?” text can be the difference between a continued relationship and the “friend that got away”.


4. Remind People How Much They Mean to You


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Sometimes, we assume our friends know how much they mean to us by virtue of the amount of time we spend with them, or by hard they make us laugh. But many people fail to recognize how important they are in their friends’ lives because their friends never tell them. In the new year, don’t be afraid to tell your friends how much they mean to you. It may seem cheesy, but it means a lot.


5. Own Your Mistakes and Apologize


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Look, we’re only human, and it can be hard to admit when we’ve done something wrong. And it’s especially hard to admit our mistakes if they happened to have hurt someone we love. In these moments, it’s more important than ever to put our pride to the side and acknowledge our friends’ feelings. In 2019, put your ego to the side and don’t be afraid to apologize. It’s the stronger person who has the guts to admit when they’re wrong and take full responsibility.


6. Remember Details of Their Life


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How annoying is it when you tell your friend the latest drama in your life, only to have them respond with a “huh?” the next time you talk to them. That’s because we want our friends to recognize the importance of our lives–regardless of how trivial the details may seem to the outside. In 2019, along with listening to your friends, remember what they tell you and recognize how important the events in their lives are. It makes all the difference.


7. Respect Your Friends’ Space


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We’ve all been in a situation where we can’t bring ourselves to follow through with plans when we’re too stressed to leave our bed, let alone our house. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, we need alone time to decompress. So offer the same compassion to your friends. If they turn down an invite to go bar-hopping or cancel plans last minute because they’re swamped at work, respond with empathy instead of anger. We’ve all had moments where we want nothing more than to be alone.


8. Be More Selfless


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Sometimes, expressing your appreciation for someone is never more powerful than doing something for them. Do they need someone to feed their cat while they’re out of town? Volunteer. Are they stressing about the cost of an Uber to the airport? Offer to pick them up. Taking the time out of your day to do something for your friends makes them realize that you’re willing to sacrifice part of your day to make their’s better. And there’s no better feeling than that.


9. Don’t Flake On Plans


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Just as we explained that it’s best to practice empathy with friends who aren’t always up to socialize, we suggest abiding by the Golden Rule when it comes to making plans with others: if you hate it when your friends cancel plans, don’t do it to them. Make a pledge to never cancel plans last minute in the new year, no matter how much you dread putting your bra back on after work. In all likelihood, your friends will respect your reliability and return the favor in the future.