Being part of a community is important to me, and I have written about the yoga community that I gained as a year-long student in a yoga teacher training. This weekend I had the privilege of joining another community – the Cincinnati Girls Pint Out chapter.
I can’t remember exactly how I ran across their Facebook page, but as soon as I saw it I wanted in. I very much enjoy the local craft beer scene in Cincinnati, and my husband and I have explored much of it over the past few years. What was missing was sharing that interest with other WOMEN. I knew this could be a community that I had a lot in common with, and a great way to make new friends. I met several of the chapter’s members over the past weekend and I can honestly say I can’t wait to participate in more events.
While of course the central theme is beer, the community around the craft beer scene is so much more. The topic of beer can get the conversation started–find out what beers they liked or didn’t, what craft beer places have they visited, etc–but a lot of times the conversation turns to something completely different. I have had conversations about pet ownership (a lot of people bring their dogs to the events), fostering animals, travel tips, sports, you name it. The people I meet have a variety of interests and it is a great way to get exposed to new things, places and ideas.
Studies have shown that belonging to a community has a myriad of benefits:
However, the concept of “social support buffering” is essentially a superstar in psychological research. It could have the psychological equivalent of its own star on the Hollywood walk of fame. It is used to explain coping and resilience in the face of a plethora of stressors and adversities that we may face…Even positive psychologists have made a nod to social relationships as being a component to happiness and overall well-being. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/millennial-media/201201/empower-yourself-today)
And let’s not forget that we are supporting our local establishments. We know where they get their supplies, what they do with their waste, and how they interact with their community. I have had great conversations with the brewers who are happy to discuss their craft and you can’t help notice their passion. I gladly support their hard work over some international conglomerate doing who-knows-what to the environment.
But what if beer isn’t your thing, and you want to make some new friends? Check out the article below for some great tips. You will notice that I have done some of them just from the intro to this blog. And it works!
Ancient philosophers and scientists agree: strong social ties are the KEY to happiness. You need close, long-term relationships; you need to be able to confide in others; you need to belong; you need to get and give support. Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as “very happy.”
Not only does having strong relationships make it far more likely that you take joy in life, but studies show that it also lengthens life (incredibly, even more than stopping smoking), boosts immunity, and cuts the risk of depression.
“Okay, okay,” you’re thinking, “I get it — but it’s not that easy to make new friends.” Here are some strategies to try, if you’re eager to make friends but are finding it tough:
1. Show up. Just as Woody Allen said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” a big part of friendship is showing up. Whenever you have the chance to see other people, take it. Go to the party. Stop by someone’s desk. Make the effort.
Also, the mere exposure effect describes the fact that repeated exposure makes you like someone better – and makes that person like you better, too. You’re much more likely to become friends with someone if you see him or her often. I’ve seen this happen over and over in my life. I’ve become close to unlikely people, just because circumstances put us in constant contact.
2. Join a group. Being part of a natural group, where you have common interests and are brought together automatically, is the easiest way to make friends: starting a new job, taking a class, having a baby, joining a congregation, or moving to a new neighborhood are great opportunities to join a group. If those situations aren’t an option, try to find a different group to join. Get a dog, for example. Or pursue a hobby more seriously. An added advantage to making friends through a group is that you can strengthen your friendships to several people at once — very helpful if you don’t have a lot of free time.
3. Form a group. If you can’t find an existing group to join, start a group based around something that interests you. My children’s literature reading groups – (yes, now I’ve helped start TWO of these groups — the first one became so large that we had to close it to new members) are among the top joys of my life. Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship, and also brings about a 2% increase in life satisfaction, but I’m confident that my kidlit groups have given me a lift in life satisfaction much higher than two percent. Movies, wine, cheese, pets, marathon-training, a language, a worthy cause…I know people in all these sorts of groups.
4. Say nice things about other people. It’s a kind way to behave; also, studies show that because of the psychological phenomenon of spontaneous trait transference, people unintentionally transfer to you the traits you ascribe to other people. So if you tell Jean that Pat is arrogant, unconsciously Jean associates that quality with you. On the other hand, if you say that Pat is hilarious, you’ll be linked to that quality.
5. Set a target. This strategy sounds very calculating, but it has really worked for me. When I enter a situation where I meet a new set of people, I set myself the goal of making three new friends. This seems artificial, but somehow, this shift makes me behave differently, it makes me more open to people, it prompts me to make the effort to say more than a perfunctory hello.
6. Make an effort to smile. Big surprise, studies show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you’re perceived to be. In fact, people who can’t smile due to facial paralysis have trouble with relationships.
7. Make friends with friends-of-friends. “Triadic closure” is the term for the fact that people tend to befriend the friends of their friends. So friends-of-friends is an excellent place to start if you’re trying to expand your circle.