“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
Holidays like Valentine’s Day, are marked by the practice of showing love and appreciation for those we are romantically involved with. Other holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are traditionally characterized by sharing time and showing our love to family members who furnish us with a core sense of belonging. But too often, friends get short shrift when it comes to expressions of appreciation. Even if there were a day of observance set aside for the appreciation of friends, it seems like one day would not be enough to convey the importance and distinction that friends bring to our lives. They are our sounding boards, our support systems when family fails us or simply becomes too challenging, and they provide invaluable perspective and reflection that helps us make sense of our world. In essence, as an old friend used to say, “friends are our chosen family.”
Barring the naming of a holiday like “Friend’s Day,” we can choose to show appreciation for our friends daily. But other than picking up the tab every so often or buying a gift, we often come up blank in showing true appreciation that feels authentic, natural, and representative of our deepest consideration of these people we call friends. You may have already cultivated a language, or mode of expression, that effectively expresses and conveys the value and importance of your friends. However, the rest of us need some guidance and creative direction to spread our warmth, consideration, and affection to our friends.
Right now, each one of your friends is facing a challenge of some sort. Some may be coping with adversity, others may be considering a radical life shift or a minor life improvement. Get involved in their process, consider their difficulties, fears, and blocks, and do everything you can to encourage growth, risk-taking, and investigation, while providing a loyal sense of support through tough, or just challenging times.
Use the Mail
Between texts, email, and various forms of social media, there really is no practical reason to ever send anything through the post, right? Wrong. Our mailboxes have become a dumping ground for bills and unwanted solicitations. So when something unusual arrives in our mailboxes, it feels all that more unexpected and remarkable. Send a simple card, something playful, or just a note telling your friend that they are fun, fantastic, or simply valued. Such a gesture will, no doubt, bring light to an ordinary day.
When asked, people tend to tell one another how incredibly busy they are. Instead of observing the obstacles that are keeping us from spending time and energy on our relationships, put aside a bit of time for a friend that demonstrates both devotion and intention to hang out or just experience one another. This could be done in person or over the phone. Either way, make sure the time is spent with togetherness in mind, and all forms of distraction eliminated.
What better way to demonstrate your faith and enthusiasm for a friend than introducing them to another friend, or even set of friends. If you truly enjoy and cherish a friendship, you will want to share that friend with others and endorse their qualities and character. Like you would suggest a fantastic vacation or a tremendous experience, making introductions between friends reveals your love and enthusiasm for all involved. Set up a lunch date, a trip to a museum, or even a ski trip and make sure your eagerness is known to all on your invite list. Even if it doesn’t yield a lasting connection between friends, your intention will resonate with all.
No matter what friends may tell you, everyone loves a gift, and unexpected gifts can be best because they are devoid of expectation and prediction. Surprise a friend with a simple gift that expresses a heartfelt gesture of friendship. This could be simply picking up the tab at a meal, purchasing something you know they would love but would never buy for themselves, or (if you are crafty) actually making something for them and presenting it with pride and affection.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies