It's Friendship Day! I love this little segment of my Mini- Happiness Project. I so agree with Gretchen (and pretty much all the happiness research ever done) that investing in relationships is a great way to increase my feeling that life is on the right track.
Last year around this time, I took a test that revealed something surprising: that I'm not the most relational person around. I guess it wasn't all that strange; I've always noticed that some people are just instinctually better at recognizing those key moments when a friend needs something, and knowing exactly what to do. I'm not that girl. But I'm determined. I care a great deal about the people in my life (and, I guess, people generally). I want to deepen those bonds. And as I learned with my brief/clumsy/nonetheless successful career in high school gymnastics, determination covers a lot of ground when you lack natural ability!
My favorite part of this chapter is where Gretchen lists Four Strategies she devised to be more generous. They're highly adaptable, and brilliant:
1. Help people think big. I love doing this with the two favorite things in my life: writing and romance. Here's my deep, profound philosophy: If some people get published, and some people find great love, why not you? (Don't answer that...it's rhetorical!) Gretchen reminded me to focus more on this sort of encouragement.
2. Bring people together. A great way to accomplish #1, right?
3. Contribute in my way. I love Gretchen's focus on how individual we are--that we need to be ourselves, using our unique set of likes and talents, for new things to make us happy over the long haul. So I won't convene a craft group, as I don't really dig crafts. But gathering friends for a fabulous author book signing here in Boston (scroll down to Jan. 13)? Or to write together here in Cambridge (more information coming soon)? Or to talk about Spirituality & Relationships (details to come)? That I can do :)
4. Cut people slack. This is a key--for me at least--to happiness. When someone is rude to me, or thoughtless, or demanding, my happiness either spikes or plummets in direct relation to how I choose to interpret their actions. Slack for others=happiness. The math really is that simple (and how I love simple math!)
This is a partial list. What would you add to it? What builds great friendships?