The book “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins makes the point that one of the keys to living (not just existing but really living to 100 years old) is to have good relationships. That sounds great since I want to enjoy as many of my days as possible. However, how do I create these life giving relationships and continue to make new friends when my current ones keep moving? Below are five methods to meet new people and hopefully new friendships.
How to make new friends in any situation
Get out of the house
When I was 21 years old I endured a season of my life where I was unemployed. For the first week I sat around my apartment watching television and somehow got it into my head that some employer would randomly dial seven digits and call to offer me a job. Now I don’t know what the mathematical odds of something like that happening are but you can probably guess that it didn’t happen. The second week I started looking at the newspaper and making phone calls to find employment.
The concept was quite honestly a bit crazy. However, many people hope to make friends but they don’t go anywhere. Sitting inside all day it would be a rare breed of person that will walk up to your door and knock and ask if you want to be friends. (It does happen for kids sometimes but not for adults.) You must find a way to get out of your house. Go to the local pub. Sit out at the neighborhood park. Visit a city museum. Look, around your house. What do you have to lose? Those friends that you need for a long and happy life are not there. Break out and hang out at the mall. Do something outside of your house.
Show your passions
Having had the opportunity to travel I have enjoyed going to sports events in a multitude of cities. I was once at a minor league baseball game and the home team hit a homerun. Total strangers gave me a high five. Others invited me to dance with them and general chaos was in order. Together we shared a passion for the sport that pushed us past the weirdness of being strangers. In the midst of the joys and passions of the moment we were lifelong friends.
This is true when you visit museums and concerts and in a whole host of activities. Suddenly when you are there you are surrounded by people of like passions. That one thing in common can be a source for great relationships. Open up your eyes and look around. Cheer for your favorite band or team and celebrate friendship. You have something in common and something to talk about. That is a great basis for friendship.
Stop to help
In my thirties another season of my life I was a pastor of a small church. There were great moments of celebration with people as kids graduated, couples got married and folks became inspired to live a new life. But the men and women that I am still friends with today almost ten years later are those who experienced a crisis and I was there to help. These were represented by funerals and wayward children. A cheating husband left his wife hurt and broken. Countless hospital visits and tear filled nights as we struggled through difficult circumstances together. I was there for them in their time of need and though we rarely bring up those events it was the pain that brought us together.
Look for someone in need and reach out to help them. You don’t have to be a counselor to listen or a professional mover to carry a few boxes for folks. Twice in my life I was broken down alongside the road with a flat tire and no tire jack. People stopped to help me and I remember them fondly nineteen years later. Stopping to help people in need is likely the way to build the strongest relationships. You never know who you will meet when you look to serve others. Even if they are not your friends when it is over, you will be remembered as a hero and that is not too bad either.
Join a club or other organization
Also in my thirties I left the Army and moved to a town that I had never been to or had even heard of before. This was a whole new season of life for me. In the Army you become friends with those you are serving with, here I was mostly alone. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to have my family there with me but I was lacking in friends. After a short season of not knowing where to go for friends I signed up to join Toastmasters. This club gave me friends that were encouraging and motivating in all areas of my life.
We ate together, played together and became good friends. As I’ve grown older I have been in many towns and know that there are many other civic organizations and clubs out there. They all have their passions and focus areas. Do some research and check them out. It is likely that you have friends waiting there who have passions that will match yours.
Today I work at Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee Oklahoma where I meet the most interesting people in the world. These men and women are experiencing homelessness, hunger and hopelessness. But when you get to know them you discover that they have interesting stories. Some have traveled the world. Others have advanced college degrees and others have simply had a wide array of adventures. Dinner conversations are rarely boring. Other places in our communities also have needs for volunteers and they also serve interesting people. They come in all shapes and sizes and work in a wide variety of fields. Certainly you can find someplace that matches your passions. Now, it might cost you a couple of hours a week. The friends you meet will not only be the clients or guests or the people being served. Others are there to volunteer and work that will likely prove to be genuine people that you can call friends. Check out the non-profits in your community and see where they need help. Interesting people are waiting for you.
It is my desire to live a long, healthy and happy life. Everyone can handle a few more friends. These are the people who will be with us in the good and the bad. These are the people who will encourage you to push on when you want to quit. Having people surrounding us gives us energy, motivation and life. Seek friends and I will see you at a meeting of those of us living at 100.