Feel Less Lonely: How to Make Friends and Be More Connected
Some people just have the touch. They make new friends wherever they go. Their breezy confidence is a friend-magnet. The last time they felt awkward in a social setting was…never.
For many of us, though, making friends isn't easy. But there’s hope. You’re here, right? So you must want to meet new people or learn the best way to make new friends and social connections. Maybe you’re lonely, or you need an ally to brave the ups and downs, or perhaps you just want to sit next to someone you know when you go to the movies.
There’s tons of scientific research that says practically nothing is more important to your well-being than connecting with other people. Friends offer support in times of stress. They boost our optimism, confidence, and willingness to try new things, plus they’re great buffers against anxiety and depression. So here are three strategies for meeting new people and making new friends:
Take a Smiling Walk
A great way to boost your social interaction experience is to take a "smiling" walk. The next time you go out, make a point to smile at others. Don't just smile at passerby–smile at your coworkers, the deli guy, or even the mailman. Smiling is a proactive behavior which solicits a reaction. Studies show that the more a person smiles during a conversation, the more friendly that person will be perceived to be, and the more favorable response that person will get from the receiving end.
Meet Your Friends' Friends
One of the easiest ways to make new friends and expand your social circle is to meet your friends' friends. Researchers who study social networks observed the “triadic closure” – a phenomenon occurring between three people, let's say, A, B, and C. When strong ties exist between A-B and A-C, there is a weak or strong tie between B-C. This simple concept suggests that you have a much better chance developing strong friendships with your friend's friends, than with a random guy or a girl at the checkout lane. So why not ask your friend to invite one or two of their pals to join you on your next outing?
Reach Out to a Potential Friend
Is there someone at work you’d like to befriend but don’t know how? Is there a neighbor who once said “I’d love to have you over for a drink, sometime!” but never followed through? Try a simple gesture to break the ice. Treat them to a cup of coffee or offer to do them a helpful favor. Studies show that people who spend money on other people and experiences are significantly happier than those who spend the money on themselves, especially if they're buying material objects. Scientists have also found that giving emotional support to others tends to support one’s own emotional health: To give is to experience relief, even for those who are struggling themselves.
For more strategies on how to meet new people and make new friends, plus personalized activities, games, and quizzes that will boost your happiness and help you apply these skills to your daily life, sign up for Happify's "Feel Less Lonely & Be More Socially Connected" track.
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