“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
That’s an epic formula for having a friend.
In that statement by Ralph Waldo Emerson, was it merely his opinion or can we be confident that the advice will guide us toward having a friend? Is his approach too simple for our complex world? What if he—an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet—was right all those years ago in his time here on earth (May 25, 1803-April 27, 1882)?
Can you think of an instance when having a friend was anything more than being a friend?
You Be The Judge
How easy is it to go about establishing relationships and having a friend?
There are lots of ways to make relationships complicated, of course. In many instances, they can definitely prove to be complicated—and tangled, and knotty, thorny, AND tricky!
What if we just simplified them? One at a time?
You be the judge, but it seems Emerson’s observation on having a friend is far from outdated. Have you tried it lately? Are you teaching it to your kids?
Likable, Lovable, Charming
Which one of us doesn’t welcome a friend, especially when that person indicates a willingness to be a friend? The following are simple ways of reaching out:
- Smile so people will know you are friendly.
- Compliment so people will know you like them.
- Ask Questions so people will know you are interested in them.
- Respond Positively so people will know you can be a good friend.
Now And Later
According to Dr. Paul Schwartz, professor of psychology, we need to be intentional in stressing the importance of children developing self-control—being able to wait for what they want, using words to express their feeling rather than acting disruptively or misbehaving, giving others a turn with toys. That seems basic to friendship. Still, friendship skills must be taught.
Teaching children how to develop friends paves the way for them to have an increasing sense of belonging. They need knowledge and skills that will enable them to make healthy relationship choices.
Targeting prevention methods to help children avoid dangerous relationships is something that I’m passionately pursuing in my Ideal Friend presentations. A climate of trust in the home and an understanding of children’s vulnerabilities is key to protecting them.
Dr. Schwartz has this to say about children who are on the periphery of friendships: “More than half the children referred for emotional behavioral problems have no friends or find difficulty interacting with peers. Friendships contribute to the development of social skills, being sensitive to another’s viewpoints, learning the rules (as they pertain to navigating life), conversation, and age-appropriate behaviors,” says Schwartz.
“Compared to children who lack friends, children with ‘good’ friends have higher self-esteem, act more socially, can cope with life stresses and transitions, and are also less victimized by peers.”
Having A Friend
No friends? That’s a sad predicament at any age. Loneliness? Isolation?
Individuals who feel lonely or socially isolated tend to be more depressed, have more health issues, and may have a shorter lifespan. Having a friend that is a great support system can help us deal with those hardships that everyone faces at some point.
“Even among familiar faces, people often feel invisible and desolate, like an island in cold waters or a shadow apart from the crowd. Be the reason another never feels alone.” Richelle E. Goodrich, author of Making Wishes.