I recently pulled the classic film, "Pride and Prejudice," off my shelf to watch it again. To say the story is infused with entangled connections is an understatement. In fact, in the days of Jane Austen, people's lives were all about relationships; they were the number one rule of the time, making the right connections and nurturing those ties that bind.
It got me thinking about my own relationships, which had already been on the top of my mind because I have been on the receiving end time and time again of such meaningful connections, particularly as of late. It also got me thinking about what it means to build and sustain relationships in our lives.
This article could have just have easily been entitled, "Want a Friend? Be a Friend," because in order for the connection to be true and lasting, it's important to give as much, if not more, than you get. Science shows when we are in happy relationships, Serotonin neurotransmitters in our brains increase keeping us in better spirits. As such, you have a tendency to be healthier and perhaps even live longer!
We can always do more than we're already doing in this arena, but here are a few reminders for doing your part in a friendship, or any meaningful relationship, whether it's for a lifetime or for the meantime:
- Take the time - set aside time to nurture your friendships.
- Follow through - when you get an email, text or phone message, answer it in a timely fashion. And, do what you say you're going to do. Don't make empty promises. We all get overwhelmed at times with obligations, but repeated broken follow-through will only get you labeled as a flake.
- Don't be a fair weather friend - support the ups & the downs equally. The true friend sits with you during the worst of times, fully present.
- Do what they want to do as well - only because it's important to them. When you're giving from that place, it's not a sacrifice but rather nurtures relationship.
- Tell the truth - don't be afraid to speak your mind in an authentic way. If it's communicated in an open rather than constructive way, it's likely not to be perceived as criticism. No one likes a know-it-all, I-know-what's-best-for-you acquaintance, but a friend who lovingly asks you questions to help you see your own truth, is a true friend. Telling the truth is also about communicating how you feel when situations arise. Truth is powerful stuff!
Related: Here's the Truth About Truth
- Be generous - generosity of words, spirit and time forms the core of giving relationships. The smallest gestures can go a long way and can take only seconds to impart sometimes.
- Remember the milestones - keep a calendar just for these important dates: birthdays, anniversaries, special moments, and make a point of acknowledging them. Think about how you feel when someone does the same for you.
- Hold their dreams - this is my favorite way to give to my relationships. There's nothing so powerful as believing in your friends' dreams and goals, even when they don't. Words of encouragement are many times the lifeline they need to forge ahead. "You will be brilliant at this!"
The ties that bind us are the people in our lives. Making the most of those connections are what make it all worthwhile.