Research shows that cultivating healthy social connections is critical to our well-being. In addition to reducing stress, loneliness, and isolation, friendships can promote happiness and self-confidence, as well as a sense of purpose and belonging.
Infusing friendships with mindfulness and practicing self-awareness can help you build more mutually satisfying relationships. Acting with compassion and without expectations is a proven way to be good to your friends — and good for them, too.
Take the EASE approach to fostering fruitful friendships.
E: Encourage your friends in their positive endeavors. Be the cheerleader you would want to have supporting you. Practice being mindful of the temptation to compare yourself with them. It can lead to envy and create unconscious obstacles that damage friendships.
A: Accept people as they are. It’s not your place to fix anyone. Notice when a tendency to judge arises: Are you evaluating someone’s wardrobe choice or relationship decisions? Use this information as an invitation to ask yourself if you’re overstepping or imposing your own values on your friend.
S: Support friends by showing up and helping to carry their burden when they’re feeling down. Friends come out of the woodwork when you’re riding in a limo; a true friend will be there to ride the bus with you and be by your side when you’re unable to move.
Attune yourself to signs that your friends could use extra care. For example, maybe one of them has been absent from group gatherings for a while or has been communicating less frequently than usual. While maintaining healthy boundaries, consider reaching out to see whether you can help.
E: Enjoy time with friends and don’t take life too seriously. Mindfully observe when complaints constitute too much of your conversation. Take the opportunity to choose joy and fun more often when you’re together. Your capers today will be beautiful memories tomorrow.
This article originally appeared as “EASE Into Mindful Friendships” in the November 2022 issue of Experience Life.