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Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Make (Good) Friends

Good friendsPossible Ways to Make (Good) Friends - Beyond Blue.

I was really sad to read that so many Beyond Blue readers don't have four friends whom they could ask to compile lists of positive qualities in order to start a self-esteem file. It seemed that almost one-fourth of the comments on the message board of my "Video: My Self-Esteem file" pointed to the sad reality that many people are without a large group of friends.

Although I have experienced almost every other symptom of depression, I have been able to, for the most part, escape loneliness--except for those months when I couldn't describe my thoughts and feelings to anyone because they were so ugly.

I think that I have been blessed with so many good friends throughout my life not because I'm so popular, but because I'm really nosy and I lack many of those social graces and proper boundaries that a polite person has.

In the first five minutes of meeting someone, I usually cover my entire psychiatric history. That can be good and bad. It works those afternoons like yesterday when a mom approached me and said, "you look so calm with your children," and I laughed out loud and said, "I don't think so, I'm just heavily medicated." We talked for another hour and covered what meds we were taking, our dosages, what doctors we see, what psych wards we had visited, how long our menstrual cycles last, and what we tell other people with regard to our mood disorders: me ... everything, her ... nothing.

A success!

But my no-edit feature can also have me eating my shoes fairly often with blushed cheeks, sort of like the guy I know who tried to squeeze some information out of his daughter's future in-laws with a little humor.

"So, Dan, let me ask you . . . what do you do? Now don't tell me it's selling Hoover vacuums ... Ha ha!"

"As a matter of fact, that's what I do."

Swallow...."The check please!"

But I've been thinking about this friendship thing a lot since so many readers wondered how they might go about finding the type of friends who would actually take the time to list ten positive qualities for one of their friends in need.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind. But please take these with a grain of salt, because I'm so not "Miss Manners." In fact, I could write a column called "Miss Tacky" (8 ways to re-gift your undesired presents, 7 techniques to make a person cry, 6 ways to interrupt a conversation, 5 classic insults, etc.)

1. Join a book club.
2. Volunteer.
3. Go online.
4. Seek out a support group.
5. Take a night class.
6. Get a dog.
7. Steal friends from friends.
8. Knock on doors.
9. Carpool to work.
10. Attend a conference.
11. Connect with your alumni associations.
12. Talk to strangers.


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