Orthodox Judaism, yoga and writer gatherings are ways I make new friends.
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.
“OK, OK,” 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, “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.