To Do:

Remember birthdays

Be generous

Show up

Don’t gossip

Make 3 new friends

Gretchen Rubin discusses how to develop, strengthen and maintain relationships citing the human connection as one of the most influential variables of happiness in her novel The Happiness Project. For unaware readers, I follow my New Years Resolutions according to her book, one month at a time. 12 additional goals come into play throughout the year, as well.

The majority of the challenges presented this month ought to be easy to tackle since making time for friends often becomes priority. Girl Time allows me to vent and be myself, while weekend parties offer the chance to meet new people and step outside my comfort zone. Between Bonnaroo, bonfires, house warming parties and a scheduled camping adventure with about 15 friends, this summer is off to a strong start.


Remember Birthdays

Rubin recommends a basic, traditional approach with birthday cards to enhance personal connections. The author writes down all her friend’s birthdays. Luckily, the majority of my friends list their birthdays on Facebook, making the occasions easy to remember with reminders.


Be generous

Fostering a generous, charismatic spirit becomes the meat of the chapter, as Rubin’s tips include doting on friends without spending too much cash. “Generous acts strengthen the bonds of friendship, and what’s more, studies have shown that your happiness is often boosted more by providing support to other people than from receiving support yourself”, Rubin argues as the author discusses 4 thoughtful ways to implement and act on an attitude of generosity.

1. Help people think big

2. Bring people together

3. Contribute in my own way

4. Cut people slack

The first suggestion pertains to motivating friends and adding to their ideas. For instance, strongly encouraging a friend to take time off for Bonnaroo by offering to share supplies last minute reminds her to lighten up, have fun and take spontaneous risks. Another friend suffering from postpartum depression needed a boost, as I recommended she attempt the 21 Day Challenge. Not only is the new mom engaged in her self-discovery process, this individual has grown adept to meditating, exercising and practicing gratitude daily by keeping a journal and reviewing The Secret. One friend wrote to ask about vegetarian recipes so his girlfriend, so I eagerly unearthed old recipes and discovered new ones to share.

Honestly, bringing people together comes naturally to me. From Pinterest Parties to birthdays and pot-lucks, there’s nothing I enjoy more than having a good time with a tight-knit group of friends. Looking forward to moving out in 3 weeks, having my own place and hosting monthly pot-lucks! About 30 friends confirmed for the the upcoming house warming party so far, which will serve as the first event, plus a camp trip scheduled to Fall Creek Falls at the end of the month will bring more people together. As if that’s not enough, Bonnaroo is bound to strengthen ties between myself and friends, as well.

Anyone who knows me understands my love for cooking. “Contributing in my own way” means serving food for those feeling stressed, depressed or all the above. So this month as I attempt 2 new recipes, I plan to deliver these meals to a few friends who could use a break from the kitchen.

Cut people slack… the most recent “aha” revelation. One close friend accused me of being too hard on myself last week, while yesterday Jessica delivered wisdom she received from a therapist: We hold ourselves accountable to the same standards we place on our loved ones. Light bulb moment!!! As someone who’s frequently coined a perfectionist, could I be too hard on my friends as well? Absolutely. Jessica’s thoughtful, significant observation resonated with me last night as I considered ways to cut people slack: Don’t expect friends to show up to every single planned event, practice patience and recognize the “fundamental attribution error” when judging people’s actions.


Show Up

They say “showing up is half the battle”, so making the effort to support a friend requires a willingness to try. Whether it’s meeting one chick at Hasting’s during her shift for a quick coffee break, hanging out with another friend at Chanel a few times or participating as a bridesmaid in my kindergarten friend’s wedding, showing up matters.

When a friend invited me to a Bath and Body Party at Just Love Coffee, apprehensive feelings consumed me. What if it’s awkward because I don’t know anyone else? What if I can’t find the place?Β Rather than cave to insecurities, I took advantage of the invite, enjoyed an Iced Coconut Mocha, created my own fragrance and placed an order for Green Goddess Bath Fizzies. (Yes, you can create the name of your product too; my scent included Aloe, Eucalyptus and Bamboo) Best of all, I made a new friend πŸ™‚ Had I not taken the risk to show up, this delightful experience wouldn’t have happened. Brene Brown defines connection as, “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Needless to say, I felt connected and good.


Don’t Gossip

Rubin details gossip as a means of temporary satisfaction, bringing two individuals closer together against someone else. We learned about this in high school, the Karpman Drama Triangle. Rubin doesn’t make mention of this psychological model of human interaction, but she insists spontaneous trait referencing takes place, a point hammered hard in another great read called The 4 Agreements. Whatever you say about someone else, positive or negative, is a reflection of yourself.


Make 3 New Friends

The final goal for June felt uncomfortable. Make new friends? I have plenty! Merely the idea of approaching strangers flustered me, but in the great words of Dr. Brene Brown, “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability”. I found myself going out of my way to be nicer to people as I would ask myself, “Could this be my new best friend?”

So far I’ve invited one acquaintance to camp with the rest of my friends, since she mentioned never camping before. Spoke to a few unfamiliar faces at the last house show and encouraged friends to bring a friend of theirs to the upcoming house warming party. I met with 6 women at the coffee shop to play with soaps and bath products, and intend to meet more people at Bonnaroo to keep in touch with online afterwards. We will see how the remainder of the month pans out.


In conclusion, the daily challenge for the month is to write a Gratitude Letter every day to a close friend or family member. Any additional suggestions on how to strengthen connections are appreciated and welcomed.