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Why Unexpected Friendships Can Be The Best Ones

Why Unexpected Friendships Can Be The Best Ones

Friends are important parts of our lives. They laugh with us, share their joy, make us feel better when we are down, brighten up our days, and offer genuine support and advice. When we are mature enough to become well-acquainted with our interests, we seek out to find friends who are alike, so that we could spend hours and hours talking about the same books, music or movies we like. We believe that those are the people that we would get along with since we have so much in common. But have you ever tried to step out of your comfort zone and get to know people that are different than you? There is something good in the unexpected – we can learn something new about ourselves and become a better person.

When fate brought together an illiterate prisoner and an encyclopedia editor

For some prisoners, being incarcerated brings about retrospection of their lives and a desire to change for the better. This is what happened to Robin Woods during his time in Maryland Correctional Institution. His desire to change led to quite unusual friendship with Mark Stevens.

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Woods, growing up in a housing project in Cumberland, Maryland, never really learned how to read as a result of resentment towards authority figures. He decided to learn how to read during his time in prison, which brought Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia in his hands. During one of his reading sessions, he spotted a mistake, and he felt the need to inform the editor, Mark Stevens, even though he wasn’t sure his message will reach him.

To his surprise, Stevens responded, and thus this unbelievable friendship started with exchanging many letters and later phone calls. They finally met in person after almost a decade since the first letter. At their first meeting, Woods honestly said to Stevens “I never met you until today, but I love you very much. You’re a good man.” These two people have nothing in common at first sight, yet they found something good in each other – inspiration, support to stay on the right path, and a whole new perspective on life.

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When the number one tech guy met the big-shot investor

When Bill Gates first met Warren Buffett in 1991, at the request of his mother, he hardly thought they would get along as he believed they have nothing in common, since Gates considered himself “a technology nerd” and Buffett as “a big-shot investor.” However, on their first encounter, they started talking and as the hours went by, Gates realized he was wrong: “We were suddenly lost in conversation and hours and hours slipped by. He didn’t come across as a big-shot investor. He had this modest way of talking about what he does.” This friendship still lasts to this day, as they constantly learn something new from each other, challenge each other and grow together.

The key is to step out of your comfort zone

You may think some relationships seem improbable, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be great and full of love and respect. Meeting people who are nothing like you will open completely new horizons to you, and bring new perspectives to life, and many new benefits.  Break the pattern and step out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve personal growth. Be open-minded and try to experience new views. Although these kinds of friendships might not look as they will last for a long time, they are the ones that last for a life time since there is so much you can learn from each other. This can bring benefits not only to you, but to community as well, as we can see from the example of Emily Farmer (25) and McEwan Voorhees (100) who became friends as Emily decided to play the piano to elderly people at Heritage Place in Bountiful. They’ve become close friends and learned so much from each other.

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Challenge yourself to do something new every day – travel to some new place alone, and try to make friends by walking up to complete strangers and starting random conversations. Or, make use of so many meeting apps out there. You would be surprised at how many great friendships you could start once you open yourself to the possibility of meeting people who seem to not share any of your interests. Try out activities you’ve never dared trying before and by pushing yourself further, you will meet new people that will challenge and push you even more to reach your full potential.

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/ via images.unsplash.com

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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