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Ruby Tablets: The Friendship Tenants of Project Fellowship

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 17, 2013


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The essence of Project Fellowship can be found in it’s friendship tenants.

I have discovered many gems of wisdom and practical knowledge on the subject of friendship over the years. I will slowly be adding them to this page when I come across them in my notes. Some of the tenants below may overlap. I have decided to keep them all though as one may help you grasp what I’m saying better than another.

For those of you coming directly to this page please note that while Project Fellowship covers friendship topics in general it’s focus is on how to live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships. How to draw good friends into your life. I also touch on friendship-related depression and loneliness.

Now that I’ve got you tuned into what the site is about let’s have a look at the following tenants. I will eventually get around to linking these tenants to the articles that mention them.

Ascend to a Whole New Level

You may need to take things up to a whole new level in your search for good friends and by that I mean several notches. The problem is some people are oblivious to the fact that the amount of effort they are putting in is simply not enough.

A beneficial exercise is to become very social over a period of ayear. Host parties, barbecues, attend other people’s social events and find new people to add to your active friendship list. Do it on a level you’ve never done before. Now that your initiative ‘muscles’ have had a good work out you’ll find that you have a sense of scale . It will be so much easier for you to hit the heights of initiative that brings results.

Keep in mind that ascending to a whole new level may require you to change in certain ways.

Heed and Respect Your Social Nature and Needs

This is particularly important for those who have a high social nature and needs like myself but who have given up on the search for friends. You thrive when you express your social nature and have your needs met.  When you suppress your nature and aren’t having your needs met it can bring you pain. I thrive when I hold parties, organize events and go out with friends. Times spent with friends are the highlight of my year.  I also have loaned money, provided accommodation to friends in need, counseled and helped friends because it’s very much in my nature to do so. Don’t let past negative friendship experiences suppress your social nature. As for my needs, I ideally need to be with people who show me a little interest, enthusiasm and warmth as well as a few good friends who obviously desire my company and take the initiative with me. Consider what your own social nature and needs are.

When Depressed Question Your Efforts

In the past when I have felt a little depressed concerning my friendship situation I stopped to make a quick assessment of my efforts in achieving the kind of social circle I wanted. Often I would notice that the effort that I was making around that time wasn’t much and that I really had no right to be depressed. It was an effective depression interrupt for me. If you are feeling depressed about your lack of good friends ask yourself, “Have I been making a great enough effort to draw to myself the kind of friendships I want?” If not, tell yourself you have no right to be depressed.

Make Beneficial Changes to your Life

You may have to make adjustments to your lifestyle, beliefs, habits and attitudes to bring more people and better friendships into your life. You may also need to put yourself into situations that will naturally help you develop your social skills and ditch certain unhealthy characteristics like being unreliable, sloppy, strongly opinionated, unresponsive and so on.

Constantly Befriend New People

The bucket must overflow. Keep befriending new people till you have the group of friends you desire. I sometimes hear people say you don’t need a hundred friends. There’s no way you can have a meaningful relationship with that many people. You only need a few friends.. While that may be the case they are overlooking the fact that to have a few good friends you may end up sifting through a hundred friends.

Gauge Your Friendships and Learn to Let Go

This is particularly important for people who are socially docile and cling to the same people all the time even though they are continually bothered by their friendship situation. Don’t let your friendship slots fill up with friends who are indifferent, chronically passive or apathetic. This can inhibit good friends from entering your life. Take a moment to gauge your friendships on things like chemistry, warmth, enthusiasm, initiative, interest and other things that are important to you and then decide whether or not you want to continue that friendship. Also, learn to let go. If I had of stuck with the 50 people I initially wrote down on my active friendship list I wouldn’t have gotten far friendship-wise.

What do you think happens when you constantly befriend new people but let go of indifferent people? The answer, of course, is that your circle will improve. It’s inevitable.

Keep a Treasure Book

If you are really struggling friendship-wise and feel that your efforts to come up with a circle of quality friendships has been in vain then consider starting a treasure book. Basically, it’s a sketchpad that has a list of friends you are actively befriending, the events you invited them to and a comment box next to each name. It also has a section with a list of people you have made first contact with. It will help you focus, keep in regular contact with friends, get you to be more discerning concerning friendships as well as a number of other things. During Project Fellowship you would never hear me say, “I just realized I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Consider, “How am I Responsible?”

If you are troubled by the state of your friendships ask yourself, “How am I responsible for the depressing state of my friendships?” Allow yourself plenty of time to dwell on this one question. Write down what comes to mind and make the necessary changes in your life.

Be Inspired

If you are weary and tired of your search for good friends look for things that inspire you and give you strength. It might be music, a scene from a movie, a rags-to-riches story or the words of a motivational guru. This can help put the wind back in your sails and give you the stamina you need. If you mix inspiration with mental imagery and make an exercise of it it can be quite potent.

Seek Distinctions & Revelations

Continually search for distinctions on how to live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships. By revelations I mean powerful yet simple distinctions you have gleaned from other people or your from your own experiences.  Start drawing on the friendship strategies of others. Embrace their knowledge and wisdom. Read books on the subject, check out related Youtube videos and talk to people who have a good group of friends. Share ideas with other people on this site or another.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that so many people who struggle friendship-wise fail to do this just as I failed to do it before the age of 35. Don’t be docile minded. Stop dog paddling in the ocean of friendship. Learn to swim.

Sow on Fertile Ground

Have you ever felt as though your genuine and sincere efforts at befriending people reaps little reward? I felt that way for years. Then it dawned on me that part of the reason is that I’m sowing on barren barren ground. Have a good look around at all the people you know and the friends you have then consider what your friendship goal is. Do they constitute fertile ground? If you want good friends are there at least two or three of them who are either already good friends or promising candidates? If not, then it’s probably time to usher new friends in your life.

Search for the Highest Bidders

In friendships, we sometimes settle for too little. Is the underwhelming response to your show of friendship causing you to think, “You’ve got to be joking!” Then take this tenant to heart. Get out there. Meet lots of new people at various events. Look for those people who respond well to you and welcome you with open arms. People who shake your hand with the same warmth and enthusiasm that you shake theirs with. These I refer to as the highest bidders. They offer more friendship-wise than other people.

Be Mindful of Opportunity Cost

Your time is precious and limited. Time you are spending with a social group where you just don’t fit it and aren’t getting anywhere friendship-wise is time that could be spent with a group of people you feel you belong in and are having the time of your life.

Go in Search of Treasure Troves and Sweet Spots

Treasure troves are groups of people you get along with very well. The kind of people you look forward to being with. Sweet spots are activities we love. I have stumbled across these in my life by accident. It doesn’t need to be so though. You could make a systematic and determined effort to find them. Read up on different kinds of sports and hobbies. Try some of those that interest you the most. Visit different social groups till you find one with a really good vibe.

Gravitate Towards Good Friendships

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  We stick around the same people even though we are dissatisfied with our friendships. One dilemma is that many people befriend too few people. Another is that they are in a kind of rut that makes them ‘immobile.’ If you don’t actively seek new friends and the people around you are passive and indifferent it can’t be done!

Mine the Deck

An expression borrowed from board gaming. For example, the game may have a card in the latter half of the deck that ends the game. Someone who is ahead in the game continually chooses the option to pick up cards from the deck hoping to end the game sooner while he is in the lead.

For some the social indifference that comes their way can reach ridiculous epic proportions. One strategy for these people is to mine the friendship deck. It involves meeting a lot of new people and making a simple commitment to draw into your life the best friendships possible. To be crystal clear on the qualities you are looking for in friendships and on what you will no longer tolerate. To gauge friendships and let go or at the very least reduce the amount of time spent with underwhelming ones.

Do I sound dispassionate? You move to a new city where you don’t even have one friend. You meet lots of people socializing and hold some parties. From these people you choose the dozen people you like the best. Jay because he’s a high achiever and you deeply admire such people. Wendy because she’s beautiful and funny. Alex because he shares the same passion as you do and so on. Mining the deck is a natural human activity. What I’m saying is do it consciously and deliberately especially if your friendship reality is depressing and stubborn. Some of my best friends came way after the 50 friendship mark. If I had of settled for the first 50 friends in my life when I started Project Fellowship I would have been disappointed!

Let’s go with the card analogy a bit further. Life gives you two dozen cards and it turns out they are poor. Don’t just sit there working yourself into a little tizzy of how bad the situation is. Put them down and ASK FOR MORE! Life will give you as many cards (friends) as you like. Go to another social group. Bang, a dozen more cards. Change the church you go to. Bang, two dozen more cards! I actually ended up asking for another deck of cards! This is what I did and it worked for me.

Think about it. If you really knew that the best cards (friends) were at the bottom of deck would you loiter at the top? Unfortunately, many people settle for less and cling to those who enter their life first.

Good Friends Announce Themselves Early On

Time and time again I’ve noticed that it becomes very clear early on who my good friends are. There seems to be some kind of chemistry or special connection that is felt in the first encounter or within the first few months as I get to know the person better. In my experience, if someone albeit friendly has been a passive and somewhat indifferent friend despite the initiative, warmth and my attempts at befriending them it is highly unlikely that they will ever become a good friend. In fact, most people are incapable of being a good friend according to the definition I have on this site. What I’ve said applies to my life. You will have to determine if it’s the same in your life.

Hang Around Groups of People

I tried many things during Project Fellowship. One of them was meeting up with individuals I had befriended but didn’t know that well. Alas, befriending people like this one-on-one is like gold panning with a thimble and the results weren’t good. It’s far better I found to socialize in groups. It’s certainly far more time efficient and you are more likely to find a decent friend.

If I had a 5 player board game I wanted to play I invited 4 people., not one or two. If I had a movie night at my place then I would invite 8 people because that’s how many people can comfortably fit around the HDTV. I would push myself to get the numbers.

Good Friends are Born, Not Made

You’ve probably heard of the expression, “Good friends are born, not made.” Indeed, it seems that way to me when it comes to the first and second tier friends (best friend, good friends) in my life. There seems to be a kind of chemistry present and initiative in the friendship is a two way street. While I think the art of rapport and social skills are of undeniable importance I am wary of striving to make good friends. Been there, done that.

Some of the tenants in this section like this one act as an indicator whether you should consider your search for good friends or just stay with the people you currently know.

The Only Way is Up

For those suffering from depression due to how they feel about their friendships this one holds a great deal of importance. It’s even more important to those who have cloistered themselves away feeling like some kind of social leper and are gradually becoming more and more depressed. Truly, the only way is up.

Develop Needed Social Skills

Developing social skills just doesn’t pay dividends.  In some cases they can reap huge rewards. One of the easiest way to do this is to host events. It gives you a good workout. You’ll find that not only do your social skills improve but your social confidence and social capacity will also increase.

People are Signal Emitting Beings

People give off signals when they do or say something. They can also give off signals by not doing anything. When you tune into these signals it can give you beneficial feedback concerning someone and the nature and status of your friendship with them. Learn to read others.

Beware of Feeble Efforts

Feeble efforts are almost guaranteed to lead you down an underwhelming friendship path.

You are Your Own Salvation

The cavalry ain’t coming. You can sit down regularly with that group of people that continually overlook your friendship and bemoan your fate or you can take positive steps to find those people who welcome and embrace you.

Create a Counterweight

This is for those people who just shrug their shoulders at the dismal state of their friendships and think to themselves, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” If in your heart you sincerely want to draw good friends into your life don’t let this docile way of living and thinking rob you of having good friends. If you look closely at Project Fellowship you will notice that it is indeed a counterweight. I created it because there seemed to be an unnatural bias towards short-term, shallow friendships in my life. If you wish to create your own counterweight then you are in luck. Read my articles on friendship and glean and incorporate the ideas that make sense to you into your own counterweight.

Have a Burning Question

The following three burning questions had a powerful impact on my life. “How can I live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships?” “How can I draw good friends into my life?” “How am I responsible for my friendship situation?” I went from helpless and powerless to being able to take control of this area of my life. Consider if these burning questions are worth adopting in your life…

Ditch the Baggage

Being overly shy, having poor self-esteem or an inferiority complex need to be ditched. These things give off a wrong vibe, may cause us to behave strangely and worst of all hold us back from having the friends we desire. People are very easily discouraged so don’t make it harder for yourself. So the next time you feel like avoiding social interaction because a negative feeling is in play ask yourself, “What would I do if I didn’t feel this way?,” then go and do it!
 

Can you think of any important friendship tenants to add? Please write them in the comment box below. Thanks.
 
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