“Life without friendship is like the sky without the sun.” ~Unknown
You love your friends. They’ve been with you through good times and bad. They are the rare breed of humans that accept your weirdness, accept your authentic self, and even love you for it.
You wholeheartedly appreciate them. When you’re with them, you get an overwhelming sense of thankfulness that you have this wonderful human being in your life.
Sometimes, however, you get a sense that you wish you could let that person know just how much they truly mean to you.
Offering to buy a cup of coffee, giving a sincere compliment, and praising them to others just doesn’t feel like it’s doing them justice.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
I’ve felt like the luckiest man on Earth for many years because of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by.
Some time ago, however, I had the same feeling we all get on occasion—a desire to do more. To appreciate them in a way that will make them truly feel appreciated.
As a student of happiness, I’ve also known for years the positive impact my friendships have had on my health and mental well-being.
It’s no surprise that the director of one of the longest studies ever done on human happiness, the Harvard Grant Study, George Vaillant, concluded:
“Happiness is love. Full stop.”
The research has confirmed many times over what we’ve all known intuitively for years: our relationships are the biggest contributors to our own long-term happiness.
For this reason alone, our friends are worthy of more than a simple thank you. Use the following six powerful and simple ways to show your friends you truly appreciate them.
1. Prioritize them.
To show your friends you love them, show them that their well-being is a higher priority to you than other things in your life.
For example, a friend in distress who is in the middle of a big life decision calls you, in tears, and asks for your help. She calls, however, right as you’re about to leave for dinner.
You must ask yourself which one is truly more important. A true friend deserves to have your attention in this scenario. You don’t have to mention you sacrificed a night out to help them. In time, they may come to learn of the sacrifice you made, and it’ll continue to deepen your relationship.
2. Communicate like a real human being.
One of the most concerning sights I’ve seen in the past few years is a group of friends at a restaurant all talking … to people who are not at the restaurant … on their phones, via text.
If you are physically spending time with a friend, the least they deserve is your very existence. Being lost in your phone or other technologies brings no joy to a meeting, and you might as well not be there at all.
When I first noticed this pattern emerging in groups, I began to encourage my friends to play a game that I read about online:
Everyone at the table must put their phones in the middle of the table. The first person to give into the urge to check their phone must then pay the bill for the meal.
People never want to spend more than necessary, and this game works like a charm.
3. Believe in your friends and stay by their sides.
We all have one or two friends with massive goals. As a friend, you can be the one who believes in them, even when most others won’t.
You can be the one encouraging them to persist in the face of defeat, to reiterate how much of a truly golden heart they have and why they deserve success in whatever venture they may be pursuing.
For example, I have some friends who are extraordinary artists. Over the years, their journeys of making their passions their careers have been difficult, seeing as we still live in a culture than incorrectly undervalues the importance of art in society.
I decided a long time ago to always give them a small psychological nudge every time I see them, just to ensure their optimism is maintained.
I would remark upon their talent, ask them how business was going, and give any advice I was capable of giving, without being intrusive.
You never know how much resistance and rejection friends are receiving in their desire to live a meaningful and impactful life, and they often highly regard the opinions of friends.
You can be that friend who never gives up on them.
Objectivity, of course, is still necessary. It would not be wise, for example, to continue encouraging a friend who is on a clear path to suffering.
In this instance, you can still be by their side when they decide the doors must close.
4. Personalize gifts.
We’re sometimes tempted to get the nicest and newest shiny object when gifting to friends.
But remember that personalized gifts have always, and will always, be more welcomed than any new object on the marketplace.
Personalizing gifts shows your friend that you remember the unique things about them and that you value and notice their wonderful wackiness.
Receiving a gift like this, on every occasion, will open the floodgates of appreciation.
I once brought a friend a portable smartphone charger for his birthday. This particular friend was notorious for never having sufficient battery left on his phone to make or receive phone calls.
He greeted the gift with much laughter and gratitude, and it was also the most required and necessary thing he needed at the time.
A gift like this is simple, inexpensive, and easy to purchase, but most importantly, it’s thoughtful, and that’s what counts.
5. Ask if your friends need help before they ask you.
I’m not suggesting that you nag your friends with dozens emails a day with the subject line LET ME CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
That would be more suited for an article entitled “How to Lose Your Friends in 24 Hours or Less.”
What does work is being proactive in your desire to be a better friend.
Whenever you think your friends may be in need of some assistance or guidance, you can casually ask them if they would like a hand, before they realize they might need it.
This is a wonderful way to show your friends they are in your thoughts outside of the time you see each other in person.
6. Avoid the trap of required reciprocity.
This is one of the biggest traps in friendships.
The belief states the following: If I’m doing this great thing for you, you are required to do something equally great for me.
It’s a dangerous way of thinking.
Instead, do great things for your friends simply because they are great.
Expect nothing in return, and you’ll be surprised what actually comes back to you.
Yet you may be thinking, what about the ones who will just take advantage of my good nature?
Well, let them. You’d rather find out they behave this way now rather than later, right?
When you notice this tendency in another, be strong enough to leave that relationship respectfully and rapidly.
Going the Extra Mile
We’ve discussed several ways you can show your friends you love them so they will feel truly appreciated.
The theme among them all is the importance of putting in that extra effort to value the people who have stuck by you over the years.
Your friends deserve your time, presence, and companionship, and you are perfectly suited to be the shoulder they may need to lean on in times of distress and despair.
So enjoy the wonder of relationships in all their emotional color and spiritual zest.
You are special in your own right, and no one else can provide the love that you do, in your own unique way.