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How to Become a Magnet for Friends: 7 Mindful Tips

“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others.” ~Buddha

Would you like to have more friends? I mean true friends–people who laugh and cry with you.

My close friends mean the world to me. They are there for me when I need them. When they’re on a high, I celebrate with them; when they fall, I help them up again. My life is so much richer because of my friends.

But it hasn’t all been an easy ride. For example, one of my best friends is my ex-husband. It took years of work to move through heart-ache, anger, grief, and resentment in order to find the strong friendship we have now. To create a true friendship takes a lot of effort and dedication.

A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~Arabian Proverb

How I Lost a Heap of Fake Friends (and Gained a Few True Ones)

In the past, I learned a hard lesson about friends. I was a professional musician at the time and Director of one of the oldest and most renowned music schools in Australasia. My life seemed to be going fine: I was in a good marriage, had great job with a high public profile,  and was a popular friend of many.

Or so I thought. Then things disintegrated: I lost my job, and my husband and I separated.

Suddenly, I had no social standing, and all the people who I thought were my friends disappeared overnight. It was a dark time. Then a couple of people rang me and said they wanted to spend time with me. I asked them, “Why now?”

One of them said, “Oh, I’ve wanted to be your friend for a long time now. But I had to wait until you got knocked off your pedestal and came down to earth again!” These people are still staunch friends today.

What I learned from that difficult time is that you can miss out on real friendships if you just focus on success. When we are vulnerable, down-to-earth, and modest, it’s easier to attract real friends.

But what is the secret of attracting friends?

It’s not what we do that attracts friends, it’s how we think. If we change how we think about others, we can become a magnet for new friends.

It’s seductive to focus on the faults of others. That’s because we often put other people down in the hope of elevating ourselves. But when we focus on what is lovely about others, something magical happens: We begin to feel different about them, and they in turn respond to us in a new, positive way.

Here are seven simple tips that will help you to attract new friends:

1. Focus on the good in people.

None of us is perfect. We all have traits that make us difficult to live with. It’s easy to focus on what is difficult. Instead, look for what is good and strong. If you do catch yourself focusing on negative aspects, remind yourself that you too have faults.

2. Smile.

If you look at ancient Buddha figures, they usually show a serene smile. It’s a kind of visual teaching, because when we smile, we become mindful and step out of our preoccupation. No matter how you connect with others, remember to smile. Whether you’re connecting face-to-face, or via Twitter, email, chat, Skype, or phone,  your inner and outer smile will be felt by the person you are connecting with.

3. Let go of grudges.

Do you stew over how others have treated you? It can be difficult to release yourself from negative thoughts about how someone harmed you or made you unhappy. Such negative thoughts are corrosive and will harden your heart. So let them go and focus on the beauty of the present moment instead.

4. Be a positive mirror for others.

I you want to be a friend to someone, make sure you let them know all the wonderful things you can see in them. There is a lovely poem by Galway Kinnell that talks about this:

… sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.

This poem shows us what it is to be a good friend. We need to reteach our friends their loveliness–in words and in touch.

5. Be helpful.

The key to creating lasting friendships is to think about what you can do for friends. They key question is: what do they need? For example, a friend of mine recently lost her father. At a time like that, help is important. So I’ve been cooking meals for her, just to make things easier and to let her know that I care.

6. Be kind.

My aspiration in life is this: kindness is never out of place. Mind you, I don’t always manage to live up to it. But that’s the nature of aspirations–they are the stars by which we navigate our lives. Though they light up our path, we can never reach them.

7. Be grateful.

It’s easy to take friends for granted. But if you want to strengthen your friendships, do the opposite. Think of your friends with gratitude. And then express your gratitude to them in words and deeds. Everyone loves being valued.

The Six Magic Words That Make Friendships Happen

There are six magic words that make friendships happen. And it doesn’t matter whether the friendships are online or face-to-face. These six words are:

“What can I do for you?”

Yes, they are magic words. Because they not only touch the heart of others, they also transform our own heart. We begin to let go of an ego-centric view of the world where the main words are I, me, and mine. Instead, we start to appreciate the needs, wants, and hopes of others.

Can you think of someone right away who would benefit from the six magic words?

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Avatar of Mary Jaksch

About Mary Jaksch

Mary Jaksch is a Zen Master who blogs at Goodlife ZEN where she offers practical inspiration for a happier life. Grab her free ebook Overcome Anything.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://jakyastikblogs.blogspot.com Jaky Astik

    I’ve one simple way to make friends, even if it’s a stranger. It’s simple. You make friends when your souls meet. Even if it’s a stranger, I talk about things I love. I ask for their opinion. I ask for their help and I appreciate that help. We make friends when we open ourselves to people and let the hearts connect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Barba/31509144 Chris Barba

    So very applicable! Friends are so commonly taking advantage of because they are always there. They are a cornerstone of life, so as you wrote, when they are not there, those are truly dark times.

    Focusing on people’s bright spots is such a good practice. You control your awareness – you control your focus. So it comes down to the simple question of what you choose to see in other people?

    Great post!

    Cheers!

  • http://haveanawesomelife.com Heather

    Thank you for this post. It brought a few tears to my eyes recalling friends lost, and a big smile to my heart feeling gratitude for the wonderful friends I have (and had, and will have!)

  • Zev Averbach

    What if you’re having trouble finding an inner smile?

  • Amanda

    It doesn’t help if you simply don’t know any people who could possibly become your friends.

  • http://www.rebuildyourlifecoach.com Harriet Cabelly

    What a wonderful and important post. Especially in today’s world, where “friends” have taken on a new and almost insignificant meaning through social media. We can so easily forget to embrace and develop our Real friendships; those that encompass mutuality, intimacy, trust, genuine concern for another.
    Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  • Dyamondaine

    !!!!

  • gaspablue

    Thank you Mary, that was wonderfully put. Great insight and gentle reminder. – Best L

  • James

    Great post. We all have the same universal energy flowing through us. If we look for ‘God’ in one another, we are able to find meaning in any relationship, even with strangers.

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  • http://twitter.com/nocivus Pedro Assunção

    After reading this post i felt inspired to create this wallpaper. I hope it helps someone to be constantly reminded of the great advice in this post: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nocivus/5492161063/

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  • Chalina

    Great post but what if you’re doing everything you can as a good friend and you repeatedly get friends that bail on you when you needed them most.  I have met a lot of people from many paths (free spirits, altruists in every other sense, etc) who have become those type of friends that took advantage of me the most. As I analyze these relationships, I cannot put a finger on even one thing I’ve done wrong except always be there for them and say nice things about them.  It seems like most of my now ex-friends were just jealous of my success and popularity and once I hit hard times, they scrambled to take my spot. I used to be open to all kinds of friends and now my experience has just taught me to be wary of friends and to trust enemies more … because at least they are upfront.

  • pokyes kavwam

    you got it just perfectly right. i’ve learnt a lot from this. It will sure tell so positively on my friendships

  • Lance

    Haha, good point. You really have to connect with the people around you in an organic way or else it won’t work. I think as we get older, we develop a sense for who we can be friends with. The best frienships I’ve had have developed naturally without much effort. Like all relationships, if you have to force it, it probably wasn’t meant to be.

  • antipodes3

    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

    What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

    Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

    In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

    –MT

  • Hypebabe1

    Really enjoyed this post but the very one thing that I think will transform my life after reading it is this: “Focus on the good in people” it seems simple but I find difficult due to many hurt and disappointments from past friends and experiences. However, this is going to be my new thing, as already thinking of all the good things in those I thought I disliked is already changing my feelings towards them.

  • keir

    This is lovely. I have learned a lot from this article. Can’t wait to put these lessons into practise. Thank you. :)

  • kristen kate

    these DID help me to make 11 more friends….

  • lina

    wow really thank you i will use it and espessially the magic words

  • STELLA

    HELLO I just wanted to say thank you so much for doing this for me and many others. At the beginning of the break up I felt like I would never love again and that my life has ended. Thanks to all your advice, I now have the courage to face every new day. My heart has healed tremendously and I feel like I can now really move on. If it wasn’t for your words then I would probably still be in that dark place of my life. Thank you, thank you!”drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail. com

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  • Kamile Ko

    My suggestion would also to be playful, nothing more attracts people than open minded, happy people. :) I say it from experience of mine, because most of my friends I made here- šokiai and they are the best ones in my life. Try to do the same, maybe it will be strongest friendship of all times :)

  • vivan

    My Husband has returned home after many months. No one thought that there was hope. My friends and family urged me to move on and get a divorce. Every time I was close to giving up, I did not feel releasing me from my marriage until when my cousin traduced me to great one baba who helped her when she had problem with her lover. great one baba made the impossible possible within 48hours after I did all that he told me to do. Anytime I feel myself getting frustrated and offended I always contacted great one baba for help. Here is his contact e-mail if you need help too;oselovespelltemple@gmail.com

  • Carl ):

    I don’t have friends because my life sucks.

  • http://www.NoFriends.com Dakota Shearer

    I also have a small penis and love M.I.L.F. and I still have no friends.

  • http://www.NoFriends.com Dakota Shearer

    I am also a registered sex offender.

  • http://www.NoFriends.com Dakota Shearer

    its the size of a toothpick and my girlfriend left me because of it. hers was bigger, by the way.