As humans, we’re hardwired to crave praise and acceptance from those around us.
This is why the majority of us are endlessly bent upon imitating one another.
We have this innate drive to be accepted by our fellow man, so we conform to the image of ourselves we feel will be greeted most receptively by everyone.
There’s a problem with this, though. By conforming to an image, you do eventually find acceptance somewhere or other, but it’s probably on a superficial level. It probably isn’t about who you really are.
Deep and meaningful relationships do not occur as a result of trying to live up to your impression of what other people find “cool” or “attractive”.
The relationships that change us — the ones we forever cherish — materialize magnificently as a result of adherence to this one rule:
Be your authentic self.
The Importance of Displaying Your Vibrance
If you have the courage to display your very own peacock’s-tail of graces, shortcomings, and peculiarities, you will wind up surrounded by only the most loyal and bona fide of comrades.
See, we all have various sides of ourselves that we don’t show as often, for fear of turning people off.
But when we only present a facade or a partial truth of who we are, we don’t give people the opportunity to love us completely.
We may end up pleasing a greater number of people, but we miss out on what is perhaps life’s dearest opportunity: to be surrounded by a group of people who love us for being our honest selves.
Finding this group inevitably entails that people will fall away — some will be repelled by your personality, others magnetized. And that’s okay.
No individual is loved by everyone, but deep down, even the naysaying hornswogglers will respect a man who dances to the rhythm of his own music.
Only by unapologetically being the wonderful and wacky, upright-walking, hairless ape that you are, will you discover Soul-Connection — a true flame of kinship which can crackle indefinitely in the depths of your being.
Beyond being true to you, there are a few simple ways to ensure that you gain rapport with anyone you meet. Here are 9 quick tips to be friends with anyone worth befriending.
1. Listen closely and respond.
Really listening is difficult and requires concentration. Visualize and analyze what’s being said to you, and take a sincere interest in it. Ask questions about it.
Give people a chance to talk about themselves, and they’ll fancy you to be quite the conversationalist.
2. Discover common ground.
Mighty, Sequoia-esque friendships sprout when common soil is found in which to plant seeds.
You have more in common with everyone else than may seem immediately apparent. Instead of stalling on how someone is different from you, reflect on the humanity you share.
3. Embrace differences.
In the same vein, appreciate the richness of diversity amongst your friends and acquaintances. Be careful not to seek out people who think and act precisely as you do, or you may just find some (*shudders*).
4. Be trustworthy.
Over the years, I’ve struggled to stay silent when I know a juicy story or wild secret about someone. Yet, I’ve realized time and time again that friendships can only be built upon trust.
If someone confides in you, do your best to never betray their trust. Some people will forgive you if you do, but others may not. It is, without question, better to be honorable and never to force them to.
5. Give of yourself with no expected returns.
Whether of time, knowledge, or material possessions, we respond to generosity (and it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside). A friend of mine told me that his philosophy on this matter is that “sharing is caring.”
Show friends that you care about them and are willing to help them however you can. Always be wary of people who will try to take advantage of this trait, but don’t let them stop you.
6. Be vulnerable.
Mutual vulnerability quickly leads to deeper connections. This is true in romantic relationships as well as friendships. Being vulnerable might involve sharing a personal story, revealing your doubts, or talking about how you feel.
Contrary to popular stigma, it isn’t “sappy” or “douchey” to have these conversations. Living life means experiencing a whole spectrum of emotion, and often times our closest friends have shared both our pleasure and our pain.
7. Don’t judge harshly.
To make the greatest number of real friends, it is a statistical fact that you mustn’t discount a friend before you meet them. Judging someone on the basis of his or her external appearance reflects nothing but your own inner doubt, nervousness, or hatred.
Do your best to repress presumptuous thoughts and get to know a person rather than assuming you know a look. Remember that your friends were nice enough to see past your goofy mug and meet the true you.
8. Genuinely compliment.
Don’t be a kiss-ass or a schmoozer. But, if something someone says resonates with you or if something someone does impresses you, tell them. It’s that easy.
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Truth is, we’ve all done shit we’re not proud of. We’ve disrespected ourselves, wronged our loved ones, broken promises, and disregarded our moral compasses. We’ve all done these things, and this is why we must forgive them in each other.
When I look in the mirror, I choose to see a good person who has made a few unsound decisions in an insane world. I imagine most people I meet are about like me. I choose to forgive myself, and likewise, I choose to forgive them.
Imagine with me, for a moment.
Our time has come to an end, but I’ll leave you with a couple questions to ponder as you process this post.
What would the world look like if people stopped imitating and started living authentically?
What would happen if everyone always aimed to be a generous and understanding friend?
That’s a world I’d like to live in, and I try to live that vision every day by exemplifying the ideals I’ve exalted here.
And, God, let me tell you, I am 700 light years from perfect, but by channeling individuality and generosity of spirit, I see my attitude affecting the people around me, giving them permission to do the same.
And now I’m asking you, as a friend, to heed this advice. It may sound cliché or corny, but be yourself and be generous, then watch the magic happen. It’s powerful stuff, man, I’m telling you.
I’ll be with you in spirit, jazzing up your world and the like. You know, doing my thang. Until next time, peace and love.
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus
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In what ways do you struggle to be a good friend or family member? Also, any thoughts on how to be better at keeping secrets? As I said, I’ve always struggled with that one. Drop a comment below, even if it’s just to say hi and introduce yourself. Thanks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jordan Bates
In this Internet multiverse, Refine The Mind is a planet for the weirdos, doubters, and lovers. Jordan Bates is its chief daydreamer and an English teacher in South Korea. He earned a BA in English Literature with minors in Philosophy & Spanish at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Read the story of Refine The Mind and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.