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The Importance of Friendship & How to Choose Friends

by Karen Kleinschmidt

Friends come and go throughout one's lifetime. There may be times you feel you have more friends than you can count, while at other times, for example, after a recent move, you may feel rather alone. Potential friends are all around you: at school, at work, in your neighborhood and in your family. As you mature, your siblings may become close friends. When choosing friends, keep in mind that they are not created equal; a casual friend is someone you may play tennis with while your best friend is someone who knows your deepest secrets.

Lean on Me

Having friends gives you a support system when times are tough. It also gives you people to share common interests with, enjoy good times together and be yourself around. Friends make you feel good about yourself. Good friends will tell you the truth even if it hurts to hear it -- especially if they think the truth will enhance your life. Friends often share traits such as compassion, trust, respect, honesty and the ability to express oneself without fear of judgment.

Keep the Connection Alive

Don Gabor, author of "How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends," writes that maintaining contact with people you enjoy being around encourages friendships and helps with your self-esteem. Friends build you up because they enhance your best characteristics. Invite an acquaintance to share an activity in which you are both interested. If you take steps to get to know someone and find out, for example, that he is a bit of a gossip or she has a negative attitude, ease up and keep the friendship casual.

Joy

Choose friends who have a positive influence in your life and bring you joy more often than not. Friends can lift your spirits during times of sorrow or lend a hand when you're transitioning to a new phase in life. When looking for a new friend, Gabor advises keeping initial contact friendly and open without being overeager. Friendship and trust take time to develop. Take a chance on getting to know the people you encounter every day.

Social Media and Texting

In a 2011 American Psychological Association interview, Sherry Turkle, author of "Alone Together," notes that social networking and texting can be valuable tools to stay connected with people you are already friends with. However, they can also provide an illusion of companionship without intimacy or true friendship. If you find yourself with your phone in your hand in the presence of friends, you are not connecting with the live people with whom you are sharing company. Over time, these friendships may weaken. Keep your friendships strong by nurturing them through face-to-face communication when possible, participating in activities together and sharing sorrow and joy.

References

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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