I think we probably all consider ourselves good friends, and most of us would probably be right. Maybe you've been gifted a BFF friendship bracelet, or been told you're the best friend anyone could ask for. But there's always room for improvement. There are a ton of things you can do today to be a better friend. Of course, I'm not suggesting you are a bad friend at all, necessarily. However, if we're being truly honest with ourselves, we could all probably admit that there are times when we don't exactly bring our friendship A-game, so to speak. If you want a Tina Fey and Amy Poehler kind of friendship, both of you have to earn it. And the way you earn it is by going above and beyond to be a truly good friend.
Having my Master's in Counseling Psychology, I know just how important friendships can be in a person's life. People put so much weight on romantic relationships, but it's just as important to focus on your non-romantic relationships. Your BFF is there when you need it most — to listen to your silly thoughts late at night and to laugh with you in the best and worst of times. We have these Oprah aha moments when we realize we want to better ourselves. Well, what about realizing you want to better yourself as a friend? Here are the things you can do today to become a better friend:
1. Give Thanks
You might be well-mannered, but how often do you tell your bestie how thankful you are? Tell your friend exactly how you feel and let your gratitude be known. Days go by and it's easy to get swept away with work, school, and a million other to-do lists. Don't get so caught up that you forget to let your friends know how much they mean to you and how thankful you are. Maybe you want to text your BFF how much it meant to you that he or she helped you move last month, or maybe you let him or her know how much you appreciate their shoulder to cry on. Give thanks and you might be surprised how much you get out of it.
2. Do A Favor
Doing something nice for your friend will surely not be forgotten. Are they extra stressed today and need some help with something around the house or finishing a project? Is there anything you can do to make their life easier? Help them move, drive them to the airport, help put together IKEA furniture with them — all of those score you some major friend points. And, as an added bonus, they'll be far more likely to help you out in the future when you need it. That's how a friendship works, after all.
Sorry goes a long, long way. I'm sure there are things that all of us have done in the past that we can apologize for, no matter how long it's been. Take the time out today to see if you have any "sorries" that have been left unsaid. Even if it's in the far past, your friend will most likely appreciate your thoughtfulness more than you would expect. And, if they are anything like me, they might be holding a small grudge over not ever getting an apology — even if they don't show it outwardly. Owning up to your past mistakes makes you human, and better yet, a great friend.
4. Make A Gift
It's the thought that counts, right? So get that "thought" out of the closet and make your friend something special. It could be some delicious homemade cookies, or even a book of old photos of you two. Presents are nice for birthdays and holidays, but presents out of the blue are spectacular. And they're not just for your romantic relationships, either. So go ahead and be spectacular.
5. Write A Letter
There's nothing like a handwritten letter to show you truly care about someone. Let your bestie know how much you care with your words written down in a letter. People get mail every day and it's usually boring bills and fliers and... well, nothing that's exactly personal. Why not surprise your friend with a letter that will be the exact opposite of a monthly bill? You'll be surprised how much joy personalized mail can bring to someone's day.
6. Reach Out To Someone You Haven’t Heard From In A While
It's never too late to reach out to an old friend. You never know what's going on in their lives, or where they are, so why not give a friendly hello? It could be just the thing they need today. It doesn't particularly matter how much time has passed; everyone likes to be thought of and reminded that there are people who care about them. Text or call your old friend and let them know you are thinking of them and miss them, and you'll probably make their entire week.
7. Share A Happy Memory
I know you all remember that one night with your BFF when you two sang at the top of your lungs on a long car ride home from Vegas. Or that one time you two laughed so hard you literally cried. Reminisce with your friend today and laugh again about those old memories. This is a surefire way to bring happiness into your friend's life as well as your own, and that's really a win-win.
8. Give A Genuine Compliment
Everyone loves to be told how nice, smart, amazing and talented they are, especially the people you know the best. Give a friend a genuine compliment today, and see how much it means to him or her. A compliment out of the blue upgrades you to a better friend instantly. Just think how you feel when you receive a kind word from a friend. And, what's more important than making the people who mean the most to you feel great about themselves, you know?
9. Send Flowers
Flowers aren't just for Valentine's Day or anniversaries, and they certainly shouldn't just be given after a breakup or when someone's grieving. Change up when you usually send flowers by delivering a fresh bunch of blooms to your gal pal or guy pal today, just because. Sending a thoughtful bouquet for no reason at all is one of the sweetest gestures around.
10. Listen To Their Problems And Ask Questions
Being a good friend is most significantly about talking things through when the person you care about needs it the most, and even when they might not need it at all. Basically, it's about always, always listening — no matter what. And this doesn't necessarily mean giving your opinion every single time they speak, either. Sometimes all we need in life is to have someone listen to our thoughts and our feelings without telling us what to do next. Listen to a friend today and truly hear what they are saying, rather than coming up with your next piece of advice while they talk. Ask them questions and be inquisitive. It will only help your relationship grow stronger, trust me.
11. Tell The Truth
On the other hand, you have to know when to speak up in certain situations within a friendship. Sometimes being a really good friend doesn't mean just going along with your bestie, but saying the things that might be the hardest for them to hear. Of course, part of being a truly excellent friend is knowing when to speak up and when to shut up, but usually, over time, this becomes clear. Maybe your BFF needs to hear how his or her partner hit on you last week and how uncomfortable you now feel. Maybe they need to know that their friends aren't talking nicely behind their back. Maybe you know that passing this information along will just unnecessarily hurt them.
It's important to find this balance, and to know the times when it's most important to be truthful. And, more pointedly, to be brave enough to be truthful in those moments. Sure, reality can sometimes be painful, but the truth coming from a best friend who is only looking out for you is much easier to hear than a stranger passing along the information.
Being a good friend can seem easy, and we can all get a little bit lazy in our friendships. Kick that laziness in the butt with some simple, thoughtful ways to up your friendship game, and you (and your friend) will be grateful you did.
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