Friends and how to get them

I’ve had more than one parent tell me their child has no friends. I even had a guy at work tell me, “You don’t need friends.”

When I hear things like this, it really makes me sad. We are all social animals not meant to live in isolation. Believe me, I’m not “Miss Congeniality” by a longshot, but even I have plenty of friends. With this in mind, let me offer some tips in the hope of alleviating this terrible problem.

First, you have to love yourself. Sounds vain but it isn’t. If you don’t think you’re “worthy” yourself, you’ll have trouble being worthy to anyone else. Revel in the unique creation that you are, knowing that you have something to offer (you do).

Do this: when you shave or put on your makeup in the morning, look into that mirror and say to yourself, “I look good, I feel good, and today is going to be a wonderful day.”

This is called visualization. Athletes do it all the time. We should all do it. Giving yourself positive reinforcement like this is a great way to start the day.

Second, you must learn to listen. People love to talk about themselves. If you become a good listener, you will tap into this truism and have a lot of interesting interactions if nothing else.

If you really want to learn how to listen or just learn to communicate better, try Toastmasters. Learning how to listen — how to really clear your mind and focus on what the other person is saying — will make you very popular and you’ll be well on your way to many lasting friendships.

Third, get out there and talk to people. I suggest visiting a nursing home or retirement facility as your first step. The people there would love to tell you their life stories, and in many, if not most, cases you’ll be fascinated by what you hear.

This is what’s known as a win-win: You get better at listening and communicating while making an otherwise lonely person’s day. Hey, you might even meet a pretty nurse or handsome doctor in there, who knows, so what are you waiting for?

Fourth, get involved with something new, like hiking, motorcycling, dancing, or whatever. If you’re in school, join a club — drama, chess, or anything else you find interesting. If you’re an adult, try a book group, or volunteering.

Pick something interesting and then just start out as a beginner and learn as you go. This is a great way to meet new people and have a lot of fun at the same time. In other words, don’t just sit at home playing video games, or staring out the window or, worst of all, watching TV. Get out there and do something!

Fifth, get some exercise — the kind where you work up a good sweat — like running, tennis, or even martial arts. Getting your blood flowing makes your brain come alive. I’m serious here.

Eighty percent of the ideas for the columns I write come when I’m out running. That’s how productive good, sweat-producing exercise is.

At a minimum, get out and walk if nothing else. Just breathing in the fresh air and using your body as it was meant to be used is a great start.

So there you have it. Five easy steps to make some friends. I’m keeping this very short because I want you to put it in your wallet or purse if you need to have a reminder to get started. Sharing fun times with friends is the best part of life.

Remember this quote from Aristotle: “Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” Start making some friends and enjoying life today.