It's What You've Done for Them Lately That Matters
To hell with random acts of kindness for strangers! Now that I've got your attention, I want to share why it's important to create more conscious acts of kindness for the friends you already know and love, at least as much as you may be encouraged to do for the stranger on the street.
There's a huge trend these days to collect as many friends as possible on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. Sadly, with this cultural encouragement to amass people, you can miss the whole point.
Why do you want authentic, deep friendships? Friends touch your heart, challenge your mind, inspire you to pursue your passions, double the good times, halve the bad times and make your life a happier and more fulfilling place to be.
And that's not just my opinion! Here are the researched facts from Tom Rath, a researcher at Gallup:
If you feel close to other people, you are four times more likely to feel good about yourself and life.
People who claim to have five or more true friends with whom they can discuss important problems are 60 percent more likely to say that they are "very happy."
People with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work! However, only 30 percent of employees report having a best friend at work!
"Friendships are among the most fundamental of human needs," Rath says. "When we asked people if they would rather have a best friend at work or a 10 percent pay raise, having a friend clearly won."
Unfortunately, if you're too busy amassing a quantity of friends on social networking sites—or in live networking events—you might be creating a quantity of unfulfilling relationships, which won't make your life happier at all!
If you're feeling twitchy because you're addicted to collecting people, you're not alone in your yearning to be surrounded by a crowd. It's a trend these days. We're supposed to want more, more, more. It's a trend Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman calls pedaling on the "Hedonic Treadmill."
What does it mean to be on the Hedonic Treadmill?
Active pedalers on the Hedonic Treadmill are always busy reaching for distant, dangling carrots of what they don't yet have, easily forgetting to appreciate their already gathered, perfectly fabulous carrots, lying in a discarded heap at their feet.
But in terms of friendship, if you're too focused on collecting distant, dangling carrot people, you risk not enjoying the full love experience received from spending quality time with the quality folks you already know and love. How can you increase the joy of friendship? I have three ideas:
1. It's not just who you know, it's how well you know who you know! The deeper your emotional connection, the higher the emotional rewards.
2. Gather as many relationships of shared virtue into your inner circle . Make list of your top five friends and write down how they've influenced you and vice versa. How are you all alike in the ways that are important? Relationships of shared virtue, according to Aristotle, are the ones that bring true happiness. Focus on these relationships.
3. Look through your contact book and find your top five treasured people . Remember what you love about each and write or call him or her to share your admiration directly. Do it now. Seize the day!
And you know what? Don't just do it today. Do it tomorrow. It's not enough just to seize every other day with your friends. Seize every single solitary day!
How do you increase the joy in your friendships? Are you too focused on how many friends you have, rather than the quality of your friendships? Tell us your story!
Karen Salmansohn is a best-selling author known for creating self-help for people who wouldn't be caught dead reading self-help. Get more information on finding a loving happier-ever-after relationship in her book Prince Harming Syndrome .