We're more focused now as a society on happiness than ever before. We have come to examine what we can do to improve our lives and add joy whenever possible. We've realized one universal truth: life is short and we need to make the most of it.
What does that have to do with friendship? Quite a lot. Friends are important part of having a happy life. They add support when we need it, a kind word or two, and a way to keep us in check. All of this is important when it comes to happiness.
But what if your friendships are causing sadness and irritation in your life? Here are some strategies on how to be happier and content in your friendships.
Forgive Before You Feel Like Forgiving
One mistake friends make is waiting until they are "over" something in order to forgive. Forgiveness might imply that you're making whatever your friend did to you "okay," but in reality what you're doing is making a choice not to allow the harm of your friend's actions take hold of your mind and psyche.
The act of forgiving actually starts with a conscious choice. Once you make up your mind to forgive, the healing on your mind and heart can begin next. If you wait until you feel you're over things, you'll actually spend much more time in an angry and hurt state. Forgiveness will be slower, and you may even lose a friendship in the process.
Make Sure You Communicate Clearly
Good intentions can get lost when communication is poor. You might make plans that are misinterpreted, your actions will be misunderstood, and small arguments grow more easily. Instead, figure out a way for you both to communicate on the best level you can. Often this means:
- More face time rather than working things out through email.
- More phone calls to follow up on things rather than posting on a Facebook wall.
- Not assuming things about a friend until you hear it from them.
Don't Put Unrealistic Expectations On Your Friendship
If you put too many expectations on your friends, your friendship will suffer. Remember, it's up to you to choose to be happy and to find ways to make that happen. In other words, even though your friends help with happiness, you can't expect them to make you happy all the time. Friendships, like any relationship, have ups and downs.
Overall, you need to have good friends in your life who care about you and who you can trust. But even these folks will have a bad day or two and as a result, you might feel lousy about something a time or too. When this happens, work to correct it.
There might also be times when your friends are busy or are going through something and don't have the same amount of time to spend with you that they did before. Roll with the changes in your friendship. It's very typical for a friendship to change and grow as life circumstances change.
Some friendships can remain the same for years until an event may force a change. Others may change constantly. Every friendship is unique so appreciate the friends in your life for whatever capacity of closeness they can give you right now.
Figure Out What Makes You Happy
Happiness is rarely found in just one thing. Even if you have a great friend in your life, it doesn't guarantee that you'll be happy in your life overall. That's why it's important to learn more about happiness and how to personally achieve the bliss that you crave.
This process is different for everyone. Here are some ideas on how to learn about happiness:
- Read up happiness with a variety of books.
- Check out an online guide to finding happiness.
- Ask others what makes them happy.
- Keep a friendship or gratitude journal or blog. Documenting the good in life will help you focus on the positive things you already have.
Make your mind up to be happy. The Mayo Clinic says that "The bulk of what determines happiness is your personality and — more modifiable — your thoughts and behaviors." In other words, happiness is a practice. The more you work at it, the better you will be at it. Until then, appreciate your friendships, make time to spend with the people who care about you, and enjoy your friendships just as they are right now.