Five People You Should Have in Your Life

Photo by eecue on flickr

Photo by eecue on flickr

We are often encouraged to hang out with people who share our interests and activities. This is certainly a great idea and is a source of much fun.

When we widen our circle to include people who have different interests and areas of expertise, however, we increase the quality of our lives and deepen our happiness.

There are five people I believe we should all have in our lives.

1. The researcher

Whether you are shopping for a new car, the best coffee shop in town or a good tailor, the researcher can usually help you.
This person loves to search the Internet, network with people and keeps notes, business cards and relevant links.

One of my friends is so resourceful that I can count on her to either know a source, or seek one out on the computer while we are still on the phone.

The best thing about the researcher is that she has often tried out, read reviews and drilled down through stacks of information to get their final choice. This kind of friend will save you time, money, but most of all energy.

2. The computer geek

This person can not only answer your computer questions hands down, but loves doing it.

Think you’ve lost data, need help with setting up a new software or can’t understand that error message you’re getting?

The computer geek is delighted to solve the very computer issues that strike terror in your heart, sometimes with just a few words of advice by phone.

3. Devil’s advocate

This is the person who forces you to take another view of a problem or situation whether they believe in it or not. The benefit is when you examine a situation from a different angle you can often spot the weakness in it or see a better alternative.

When I was trying to decide on a new laptop, for example, I was set on certain features and could not see beyond them. But all of my features could not be found in any one model. By questioning the value of some of my must-haves, my friend helped me flush out the flaws in my thinking and loosen my rigid thinking.

By posing situations where one feature at a time was present or absent in a laptop, I was able to reorder my preferences to see which ones were most advantageous in most situations.

4. An experienced cook

Have you ever gotten ready to prepare a meal but realized you didn’t have the necessary ingredients?

Before you dash out to the store, call an experienced cook. This person can tell you exactly what to substitute for the missing ingredient or how to take your recipe in a different direction using what you have.

Or perhaps you are planning a dinner party but don’t want to risk springing an untried recipe on your guests. You can be sure of impressing your guests with just the right dishes by consulting the experienced cook in your circle. They will know the no-fail recipes and may even be able to give you presentation tips.

5. The entertainer

The entertainer knows how to make any occasion fun.

Planning a holiday party, a church social or a family reunion? No problem.

The entertainer has an arsenal of fun ideas and often even the games and accessories to go with them.

Need a helium tank to blow up balloons?

The entertainer owns one or know where to get one.

Need a dj?

The entertainer has one on speed dial.

These are the five people I think you should have in your life?

Did I leave out someone? What do you think?

Are You Making These Six Socializing Mistakes?

IMG_4088When you are fortunate enough to be on the guest list and agree to attend a social event, how you behave at the event will determine if there will more invitations in your future.

Socializing is more than just showing up. It involves interaction, communication and engagement. Before you attend your next social event, ask yourself if you make these six socializing mistakes.

Then before you head out to the event, vow to correct them.

1. Arriving empty-handed

Even if the event is not a potluck or a special celebration, it’s still a good idea to take a small gift. It does not need to be expensive nor lavish. Flowers and wine are popular, but you are not limited to these choices. A gift the hostess can enjoy after the event, such as a relaxation gift basket, is often welcomed. If you know the hostess personally, then use that knowledge to take something that will have special meaning for her.

2. Talking about yourself

You may well lead an exciting life, but a social event is not the time to announce to every attendee that you were just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Chances are many already know that. The rest don’t care to hear it recounted. Instead, listen to the guests you meet and learn about their lives and activities.

3. Clinging to the person you came with

It’s very tempting to clutch to the arm of your date or spouse at a party or social event, especially if you don’t know anyone else in the room. But that’s no fun for your partner and is very off-putting for the other guests and hostess.

Ease your way to the food table or bar and cordially greet the most approachable person you can spot. Chit chat will do for a conversation starter. Again, resist the urge to talk about yourself, and get the other person talking about themselves instead. Getting to know others at the party will be more fun than you think.

4. Eating and drinking too much

Arriving at a party starved is not recommended. Unless the event is a sit-down dinner or a buffet, chances are the food is mainly snacks. Eat and drink moderately so that you can engage in conversation without food oozing from your mouth or your speech starting to slur.

5. Leaving without telling your hostess

Before you leave, seek out and say thank you to your hostess. There’s no need to make excuses. The hostess didn’t expect nor want you to move in.

6. Failure to follow up

Even though you said thank you in person, send a card or email to your hostess after the event. Attach copy of pictures you took since hostesses don’t always hire a photographer or remember to have someone take pictures.

Some of these tips may seem old-fashioned, but good manners, decency and courtesy never go out of style. Avoiding these six mistakes will add to your happiness and increase the likelihood that you will be invited again.

Tool for Happiness: Build Healthy Relationships

42-17122763Happy people tend to have fulfilling friendships. While we must not count on others for our self-worth, we do benefit from building healthy relationships with others.

Here are five ways to build healthy relationships.

1. Listen

There is a reason that God gave us two ears and one mouth. Listening to others strengthens relationships because it says that they matter to us.

In the early days of my marriage, after attending a social event my husband and I would return home talking about the people we had met there. He would always share all the things he had learned about various people, some of whom I thought I knew well. When I asked him how he learned so much about people in just a few hours time, he said “While you’re busy talking, I’m listening.”

People enjoy talking about themselves, so if you just listen you will learn about them and make them feel valued in the process.

2. Give it time

Building healthy relationships takes time. While we can often get a good feeling about someone on first meeting them, deep and strong relationships require many interactions over time.

We’ve grown accustomed to fast food, fast transportation and fast communication. Developing a strong friendship is not typically done fast. Avoid rushing to “best friend” status, and work at creating long-lasting relationships that grow over time.

3. Set and respect boundaries

While I was attending a networking meeting recently a new member entered the room. When I reached to shake her hand, she put her hands together in prayer-like position, bowed, and explained that she doesn’t like shaking hands. For each new person she met she explained her unwillingness to shake hands.

For this member, a clear boundary was drawn.

While you may not have the same boundary she had, you certainly have limits to what type of touching, behavior or even conversation you allow in your presence.

Some people are happy to welcome surprise visitors to their home, but I prefer visitors to call first.

Other people are happy to meet you at a restaurant for meals, but don’t like having entertaining people at home.

Then there are people who require that you leave your shoes at the door before entering their home.

Setting your own and respecting the boundaries of others gives us comfort by letting us know what to expect. People who are unable or unwilling to respect your boundaries have no place in your circle of friends.

4. Stay in touch.

Most people spend at least half of their waking hours at work, commuting and completing other day to day tasks.

It’s easy for time to pass by without talking to and visiting with friends you enjoy. If you want to maintain your own happiness, it’s essential that you stay in touch with valued relations.

You can stay in touch in person by visiting and enjoying activities together. But you can also stay in touch using the many forms of communication available to us. The important thing here is to make it a priority to make occasional contact to ensure strong healthy relationships.

5. Give mutual support.

Keep healthy relationships by not only lending a listening ear, but also being of assistance when needed.

One friend was recently laid off from her job. I immediately put her in touch with a number of contacts who may be able to help her. Each time I see an announcement of a job fair or other employment opportunity I email it to her.

A healthy relationship is one where you care about what matters to the other person and give your support when possible.

Sometimes your support may involve holding someone’s hand when they are grieving or another time volunteering to help them with an overwhelming task.

The measure and extent of support varies by situations, of course, but healthy strong relationships are strengthened when you give mutual support.

These five ways to build relationships only work when they are reciprocated. Trying to build a relationship with someone who isn’t equally willing to do these five things is like building only half a bridge. Without the cooperation, participation and involvement of the other person, you essentially have no relationship at all.