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The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life

The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life

Are you aware that as you grow up, friendship is the thing that drifts away most easily? Work, vacation, relationships, family times — they’re all so important to life that it’s just hard to put friendship at a higher priority.

Have you ever been at supper at a friend’s home, you and your friends just didn’t have anything to talk about and had to force yourselves to just talk about something, like “so how have you been recently?”, or “oh the pasta is really nice…”?

This kind of awkward situation only leaves us wondering what friendship is for; but then, we also feel uncomfortable to have to declare that friendship has to be for something — how contradicting we are.

Here’s some good news for you…

Friendship does have its purpose, and having a purpose doesn’t ruin true friendship.

People come to your life for a reason. (Duh.) People do come together to become friends for some reasons though.

Alex Lickerman, the author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self talks about the things that draw people together as friends.

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Instead of building friendships with random people, we tend to build bonds with people who share the common interests, share common values, have gone through the same difficulties, and who support each other equally.[1]

We’re being selective about friends because not everyone can serve the purpose of being able to exchange thoughts and feelings with us.

When we get to know people, there are four things we really look for.[2]

Firstly, we want reassurance so we know we’re not alone in being a specific way.

Everyone of us has our weak spots. There’s always something that we aren’t satisfied with, or some thoughts that we’re reluctant to share with others because we’re afraid of being judged or being let down.

    We need the kind of friend who understands our thoughts and weaknesses; so we can feel comfortable to let down our guard and be comfortable with who we are.

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    We also want to have fun with people who we can be silly with.

    Life is stressful; and we’re taught to always be serious and mature at work and in life as a grown-up. Imagine yourself as an elastic band, if you kept on pulling yourself and stayed tense, you’d eventually break. That’s exactly what would happen if we didn’t get enough fun in life.

      Friends here, serve the purpose of letting you be as silly as you want and share the joy and excitement with you.

      And we need someone’s help to clarify our minds.

      We’re all imperfect people, sometimes we are confused and our minds go chaotic.

      For example, very often we are frustrated at work and not quite sure why, but after we share our confusions with friends, we somehow get things figured out and have a clearer mind to go back to work.

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        A thinking friend who gives us constructive advice and asks us probing questions can inspire us to solve our problems and get to know ourselves better.

        Finally, we network to seek collaborators to help us achieve our goals.

        We have our own dreams and goals but we are small and fragile as an individual. To get things going, we need collaborators to align their abilities and energies with ours.

          Take Emma Watson as an example, she’s an activist in feminism, and she networks to gather like-minded people who also aspire to fight for gender equality through the HeForShe campaign and the feminist book club Our Shared Shelf.

          The spiritual core reason for a friendship is help us change and grow.

          Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said,[3]

          “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”

          This relates to the law of averages,[4] a theory that the result of anything will be the average of all outcomes.

          So if you want to grow, be successful, or simply be happy and positive; the people you spend time with matter.

          Moving on from some friendships simply means you’ve understood what real friendship is like.

          You may ask, “what about those who don’t share my ambitions or interests? And those who can’t reassure my existence? Or those who I don’t really feel comfortable to be silly with?”

          As time goes, you probably will feel difficult to stay friends with these people. Dare to let go of some people who don’t help you change and grow as a better and a happier person.

          It doesn’t mean you’ve lost hope or belief in friendship, it simply means you’ve understood what a real friendship is like.

          Move on from the friendships that you can hardly maintain. You don’t need to deny having these friends, and you can keep the memories with you. Moving on is just a way to help you get closer to true friendships that are best for you and others.

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          This article is inspired by The School of Life’s The Purpose of Friendship. Watch the full video here.

          Reference

          [1] Alex Lickerman, Psychology Today: The True Meaning Of Friendship
          [2] The School Of Life: The Purpose Of Friendship
          [3] Jim Rohn: 5 – The Law Of Averages
          [4] The Clemmer Group: Innovation and the Law of Averages

          More by this author

          Anna Chui

          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

          It’s Okay To Be Envious As Long As You’re Not Jealous The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously life is pain Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering Why the Conscientious Mind Is a Successful Mind What Is The Secret To Convincing Someone To Change Their Minds?

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          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

          Posture

          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

          Facial Expressions

          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

          2. Relax Your Face

          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

          3. Smile More

          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

          4. Hand Gestures

          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

          5. Enhance Your Handshake

          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

          Final Takeaways

          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

          Reference

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