Booking under: Nicole
As I read through Chapter 6, a Friendship 101 Q&A session was running in my head.
Firstly, how many friends do I have? To me, friendship is really about quality and not quantity. Having a few close friends with whom I can get things off my chest is far more important that having tons of friends that I only say hi and bye to. And of course, we all know that the number of friends you have on Facebook does not truly reflect the number of true friends you have in reality.
Secondly, how often do I spend time with my friends? Before spending time with them, I have to make time for them. In this chapter, Gretchen shared several tips to strengthen old friendships, deepen existing friendships, and make new friends which I found quite relevant and insightful. Let’s take a look.
1. Remember Birthdays
I personally do not know Gretchen well. But if there’s one thing I do better than her, it must be the ability to remember birthdays of close people around me without the birthday notifications on Facebook. My mom is exceptionally good at remembering people’s birthdays, so I might have inherited these good-memory genes from her.
You can generally tell how deep your friendships are based on how you react to your friends’ birthdays. There are a few scenarios I can think of. For some friends, you would usually just leave a happy birthday message on their Facebook wall. For some closer ones, you may send them a birthday blessing via text messages. Finally, for the closest group of friends, you would actually plan and organize a nice birthday celebration meal to make them feel special and valued. It’s also a good occasion for everyone to get together, chill out, and have fun despite various happenings in work or personal life.
As the designated organizer of birthday meals and gatherings (since I-don’t-know-when), I will commit to continuing this gesture and organizing birthday celebrations for my friends. Though sometimes there are quite a number of errands to run from finding the venue to picking the cake and gift, I enjoy doing this for the group and seeing the birthday star smile. While I am writing this, I believe I will have more to share in my next post. Stay tuned!
2. Be Generous
As mentioned by Gretchen, studies have shown that a person’s happiness level is often boosted more by providing support to other people than from receiving support yourself. There is a Chinese saying that echoes the above: it is more blessed to give than to receive. I see eye-to-eye with her and my ancestors on this statement. One of the greatest successes in life is to make others successful and fulfill their achievements along the way.
Here Gretchen also discussed the nature of generosity, which does not necessarily touch on money or gifts. It can be time or simply words of enthusiasm and compliment. I cannot emphasize how important it is to set aside time for friends. A couple of weeks ago, a very close friend of mine asked me to help reviewing and editing her thesis on a topic that I am rather familiar about. It took me a bit of time but I was more than willing to assist her and so glad that she actually got a First on it. Great work 🙂 (I know you are reading this). As such, my commitment is to help friends by offering my time and leveraging my specialties when they are in need.
3. Show Up
With friends now spread across the city and even the world, seeing them is not as easy as it was in high school or college, where we used to meet each other in classes daily. How much time are you willing to take out of your jam-packed schedule and make plans with friends? As Gretchen observed, friendships aren’t going to survive unless you make consistent efforts. Ditto. Friendship is indeed a two way street that requires effort and contribution from both parties.
After entering the work force as a grown-up, life became busier and priorities also changed. There are some close friends that I see regularly and there are also others that I only see once or twice a year. Yet, it’s always nice to connect and bond with them over in-person gatherings. For instance, a trip sharing after someone has returned from travel is always interesting and brings a lot of laughter. On this point, my commitment is straight forward: show up to gatherings and converse with friends without checking my phone frequently to show respect.
Quickly recap my three commitments in June:
1. Remember Birthdays – organize birthday celebrations for my friends
2. Be Generous – spare time to help others
3. Show Up – be there for them and engage in meaningful conversations
Come back next week to see how Keith did with making more time for his friends and having fun with them. In the interim, if you have any suggestions about maintaining or deepening friendships, feel free to write to us below or drop a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are excited to hear from you. Speak soon!