How to Live a Happy Life – Keep Your Friends Close

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. ~ Prov. 18:24

Do you want to know a secret?

Finding the happiness you seek is simpler than you might think.

You see, true happiness isn’t found in things or money. It’s in the people around you. Nothing can take the place of the relationships in your life.  LOL is not nearly as satisfying as sharing laughter with a friend. And nothing replaces a hug!

Psychologically, we were created for interpersonal relationships, not impersonal ones. Our souls need connection with other people, both physically and emotionally. Friendships diffuse stress and add contentment to our lives. The Bible tells us that souls can knit together (1 Sam. 18: 1-3) with friendship.

There’s an old adage that says, “The best way to have a friend is to be one.” Here are six simple ways to help you keep your friends close.

Listen. You keep more friends with your ears than with your mouth. Chatter is easy; true listening requires your attention. Most of us are busy thinking of the next thing we want to say, instead of truly hearing what someone else is saying. A good listener is a rare gift that your friends will cherish. Give them the benefit of your undivided attention.

Meet for meals. Nothing brings people together more than sharing a meal. In our too-busy society, we have lost the art of dining and conversation. I have a group of friends we call the “Brunch Bunch”. We catch up with each other over a prolonged breakfast or lunch at a local restaurant every month. I meet up with other friends over coffee or dessert. Lo-cal, of course! Conversations over food seem more intimate than phone calls. They allow a closeness and coziness to develop in your relationships.

Send a card. This one is easy. With your Outlook calendar and an online card service, you can acknowledge everyone’s special days. Even better, send a card or a hand-written note by snail-mail. Despite the ease of online communication, everyone loves to get something personal in their mailbox. Make it your goal to send out one card every day to someone. You can even creating ‘holidays’ that reflect your friendship, like Chocolate Cake Day or Purple Day.

Ease up. Do you get upset when a friend or family member screws up? We tend to be overly critical of others, yet excuse our own foibles and messes as ‘just the way I am’. Give your family and friends some latitude to be human. They need your understanding and support, not criticism and disdain. Forgiveness is powerful – for yourself and for them. After all, Love is not fretful or resentful. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (I Cor.13:7) Give the gift of grace.

Be faithful. The Bible is full of faithful friends: Barnabas and Paul, David & Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, Ruth & Naomi. In every case, these friendships survived severe challenges: jail, lack, even death. Your friends need to know you’ll be there for them, no matter what. Show your faithfulness with actions, not just words. Ruth left her homeland to stay with Naomi. Elisha stayed by Elijah’s side, even when the prophet tried to send him away. Be a friend that sticks closer than a brother. (Prov. 18:24)

Be thankful. Gratitude is powerful. Pay attention to and acknowledge the little things in your relationships. (Send a thank you card!) You know how good it feels when someone recognizes your efforts. Try to find multiple opportunities to just say thanks – to everyone! A simple ‘thank you’ shows others that you value their friendship.  

Take time to keep your friends close, emotionally and physically. Demonstrate with your actions that you value your relationships. You will soon be blessed with more friends, more peace, and true happiness.  

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