By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
“Money makes you wealthy, but friends make you rich.” Someone told me this when I was young, and the words have resonated with me throughout my life. Meaningful relationships bring us more happiness and wellness in life than anything else. Understanding what social wellness is can help you build the happiest version of your life.
There are many people in the world who are looking for good friends. Because of the internet and today’s mobile society, it is easier than ever to connect with others, but the large scale of online activities can feel overwhelming. When you build a healthy social world, you create the potential for friendship, affirmation, and growth. Keep reading to find out how I keep my social world healthy, both on and offline.
When you have healthy friends and family around you, you’re more motivated, you work harder, you learn more, you sleep better, and you feel more satisfaction.
Today’s world is fractured and full of distractions. When you find a good friend it can be easy to get distracted and not give them the time and attention they deserve. But friendship is like a garden. You need to spend time and energy with your friends and cultivate your connections so they can grow into deep and meaningful relationships.
Shared experiences are a great way to cultivate friendship. Exercising can be fun by myself, but with others, I find it much more rewarding. I like getting into the zone and losing track of time while jogging, but when I’m with like minded friends and we work out together, it takes the enjoyment to a whole new level. One of my favorite activities to do with friends is partner workouts. Some of my best exercise experiences are ones I’ve shared either one-on-one or with a small group of close friends. I spend more time working out and I try harder when I’m with friends. When you combine exercise with friends you develop your social, physical, and emotional wellness all at the same time.
Because of my focus on fitness, my friends often come to me with exercise questions. I like being able to help them get into better shape. The more I help my friends, the more they value me, and the better our relationships become.
Social events are another good way to bond with new friends. The alcohol served at parties probably isn’t good for you, though. Some drinks are better than others, and you can enjoy healthy cocktails that taste delicious without adding a lot of sugar or even a large amount of alcohol.
I believe most people are inherently good, and most of the time people try to do the right thing. But we all make mistakes, and it’s important to know how to take criticism and advice. When someone corrects our bad behaviors it’s easy to feel personally attacked. Knowing how to spot someone who is honestly trying to help is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn in life. Good communication skills are essential, and books like Win Friends and Talk to Anyone can help you hone your skills. Another way to improve your ability to communicate is to get to know yourself better. Taking a vacation at mindfulness retreats can help you explore yourself and get in touch with the real you.
Helping those in need makes me feel great and gives me a stronger sense of purpose. I feel more alive when I am active in my community and doing things my friends and neighbors find useful.
There are many ways to build better communication skills, but the most important thing is to simply talk more with new people. Online forums like Facebook and Twitter are good places to experiment, but the best place is in real life. When you go out, take the opportunity to talk to new people, even if it’s not strictly necessary. Pay attention to social cues and your environment so you don’t interrupt people when they are doing something important or when they are in a hurry.
It’s also helpful to remember that not everyone has the same level of emotional intelligence. The better your communication skills are, the easier it will be to differentiate people who want to help from those who are just trolls.
Feeling good about yourself makes you a better communicator. Sun Tzu once wrote, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you will never know defeat.” I would like to add that if you know your friends and you know yourself, you need never feel alone.
When you make your community a better place, you improve your world, too. Having a healthy social world helps you relax on the weekend and make new friends, but there are hidden benefits, too.
The people in your social world can help you in many ways. Some of them will let you know of new jobs with more opportunities. You are most likely to find your life partner through social connections. If you have a healthy social world and treat people well, you will look more attractive to potential romantic interests.
You can make your entire social world feel like home if you treat the people around you with warmth and dignity. I meet people all the time who are grouchy and negative. I look for opportunities to show them I am on their side and genuinely care. How can I genuinely care for a stranger? Because I believe people are inherently good. That grouchy person who just yelled at me is also a potential friend.
If he acts like that to everyone he probably doesn’t make new friends very often and may be quite lonely. A small kindness and show of respect can go a long way. Sometimes you can transform a negative situation with a kind word and patient understanding. I’ve never offended someone through patient listening.
I am the kind of person who likes to be independent and strong. I sometimes feel like I never need help, and I’m usually so focused I don’t realize when I’ve gotten a little off course.
Nobody is perfect, and I need advice and guidance as much as everyone else. I feel enormous gratitude for the people in my life. Their wisdom and support help me unlock my potential so I can be the absolute best version of me.
My friends look out for me, even when I don’t need it, and that makes me feel loved and respected. My world feels safe, welcoming, and comfortable because I have cultivated healthy relationships with others. My goal is to make my entire world feel like home. Every step in the right direction is worthwhile and valuable because it makes my world a better place. And when my world is a better place, everybody in it benefits.
How healthy is your social world? Take a look at the people around you and find something you can do today to make things better.
Make one small change in your behavior today and become a bigger part of the solution.