Monday, June 4, 2007

Steps to a fabulous social life

Photo Taken by Fab Geri

Brush up on social skills for fulfilling friendships. With hectic days and busy schedules, time to socialize can seem like a luxury and end up at the bottom of our priority list. It's easy for many adults to suffer from loneliness and isolation. When we were younger, many of us spent a lot of time with friends: in school, on weekends, or, later, living together as roommates. But when we live on our own, or with our partner and/or children, it takes work to maintain friendships and, often, regular contact with pals becomes minimal. On top of this, many feel uncertain about how to make new friends as an adult. The following steps will help you to reach out to others and improve your social skills:

1. Commit to working on your social life In our modern world, having a social life involves some work. Look for opportunities to socialize. Go to an event that you might normally turn down or ignore, like a workshop, meeting, cocktail party or dinner. Take the risk and say "yes" instead of "no." Make yourself as comfortable as possible — bring a friend or co-worker with you.

2. Step outside your comfort zone Once you're in a social situation, take risks and reach out to someone. Walk over and introduce yourself. Ask the person how they know the host or found out about this event. Pay someone a compliment about her wardrobe. Take an interest in the other person. Ask open-ended questions, and a conversation will almost inevitably result. Ask yourself, What's the worst thing that could happen? Perhaps a boring conversation could result, in which case you can end it and move on to someone else.

3. Join something Most communities have a variety of classes, courses, sports teams or workshops to choose from. Find something that interests you, regardless of whether you make a new friend. If you live in an isolated area, consider expanding your virtual community — join a chat room or online support group, or find an e-mail friend.

4. Start something Take the initiative: invite people over, host a potluck dinner or start a book club.

5. Deepen existing friendships Consider whom you like and would enjoy having a more connected friendship with. Pick up the phone and call this person. Talk about something of importance to you. Or reach out emotionally — being there for someone else can create a powerful, soulful connection.

6. Prioritize your social life Once you make a date for socializing, say "no" to other bookings or requests for that time. Summon some energy for your social life. Time with others takes energy but it also gives energy. Sometimes I can feel too tired to socialize with friends, but afterwards I come home energized and refreshed by the laughter, support and insights that I gain from these connections. Our social lives are important to our mental and physical health — make time and space for yours.

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