Positive psychology superstars, Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, cite studies that reveal of all the things that provides for one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by at is the possession of friendships.  Studies reveal that not only will you enjoy life, you live longer and cut the risk of depression.  Close friendships allow you to fulfill the need to confide in others and give you a feeling of belonging.  This is true for extraverts and, surprisingly, introverts, too.  Creating a relationship network helps to provide a sense of identity, increase self-esteem, and provide an opportunity to give and receive support.  Here are a few suggestions to strengthen old friendships, deepen existing friendships and make new friends:

1.  Remember birthdays:  Call, email, meet-up, or send a gift, but remembering birthdays celebrates the friendship and builds stronger relationships.  Check out http://happybirthday.com/ or other tools to help remember and track birthdays.

2.  Be generous:  Strengthen the bonds of friendships and boost your happiness by providing support to others.  From bringing a box of candy to a dinner party to special gifts, do good and feel good.

3.  Show up::  A big part of friendship is showing up.  Make a consistent effort to reach out, show up and be fully present for friendships to survive and thrive.

4.  Don’t gossip:  Criticizing other people drives disconnections.  It’s just not a nice thing to do.

5.  Make three new friends:   Trying to make new friends drives a focus on making a good first impression.  It only takes 7 seconds for a person for form a first impression, so make it a good one.  Watch your body language, develop a few bridge building statements, smile more frequently, invite others into the conversation, create a positive mood, show a vulnerable side and laugh at yourself, follow others’ conversational lead, ask questions.

Start today.  Make time for friends.    “One friend is worth a thousand relatives.”  –Italian Proverb.