This week’s guest blog from Ryan Sinni is all about treating friends right. Read his tips and put them into action—send a friend a note and say “thanks for being there.” Yep, it’s that simple.
Ryan writes: If you’re at all like me, you take most of your friendships for granted and rarely tell your friends how much you appreciate them. Although some of my neglect of friendship probably comes from simple lack of thoughtfulness, I think it also demonstrates a broader imbalance in contemporary American culture. We have a day to celebrate our lovers (Valentine’s Day) and days to celebrate our families (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day), but who celebrates Friendship Day? In his classic work,“The Four Loves,” C.S. Lewis argues that love can be separated into four main categories: unconditional love, romantic love, affectionate love, and friendship love. American culture has made romantic love ultimate at the expense of the others.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We need to remind our friends how much we appreciate them. One way to do this is to write notes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to my mailbox hoping I won’t discover an encouraging note from a friend. If my friends appreciate cards so much, why don’t I write them more often? Perhaps some folks fear expressing their feelings towards their friends, even if those feelings are mediated by a piece of paper. I suppose most of my reluctance to write notes comes from a lack of thoughtfulness. I don’t think enough about the difficult week my friend might be having and the encouragement a handwritten note could provide.
Another way to encourage our friends is to compliment them—and I have one piece of advice: be specific. I often find that I will offer a general compliment and then grasp after ways to “prove” it, as if my friend thought my praise insincere. A great way is to start by thinking of a time when your friend did something pretty amazing and then praise him/her for it.“I really appreciate how you … that meant so much to me.”
As we write notes and give compliments to show our friends how much we appreciate them, we become more considerate people. By remembering stories and conveying specifics, we grow increasingly attentive to the gift our friendships really are. We don’t have to buy into the lie that friendships don’t matter. They do. Let’s treat our friends like we believe that.