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How does it work then? I'm sure you've heard the age old adage, "Walk a mile in someone else's shoes". Part of a successful interaction with a new friend is to do this on a repeated basis. It can be mentally exhausting at first as you consciously look inside yourself to understand how you'd react to a situation your friend is dealing with, but as you get the hang of it, you'll see that your brains starts to do it automatically. Imagine your best friend just got in a car accident. Your immediate response is concern. You want to know if they're okay. Upon hearing they're okay, you relax and turn back to your own concerns, but for your friend, the problems are just starting. Their car is totalled, the other driver is uninsured, they cannot get to work and they could lose her job if the insurance isn't processed fast enough. Your immediate reaction is "oh good, they're safe," but if you put yourself in their shoes, you'd realize that there is so much more going on under the surface - details that will have just as profound of an impact on their life as a major injury could have. So, instead of moving on and leaving them to their own problems, you show empathy by driving them to and from work until their check comes in and making sure they have everything they needs. That's a good friend - not just because you've done something for them, but because you imagined what would happen if you were stuck in the same boat and offered the same support you would want. The opportunities to step into the skin of someone you love and imagine what would happen in their shoes are numerous. Life is constantly throwing curveballs in our direction, forcing us to adjust and adapt to what happens. Having a caring friend or loved one nearby who not only understand but can act to help us cope is a life preserver that anyone would hope for and one that will make you a good friend for life, no matter what kind of relationship you have otherwise. Consider what works best for you. Ultimately, a combination of communication modes will be most feasible. Start the conversation with whatever works for you. "I'm so excited!" "Dude, guess what?" "Want to know what happened to me today?" Use whatever language is authentic for you and fits the person you're telling. Rinse and repeat!

That is: Plan the behavior that is consistent with your goals Be aware of that behavior Pick the right person to tell given the contextual factors involved, especially content and timing Tell them! Just as there is an effective way to complain, there is also an effective way to apologize. Not all apologies work equally well. To discern what makes the difference, a series of studies isolated three components of an apology--expressing empathy, acknowledging that social norms have been violated, and offering compensation--and examined how each component impacts the effect of the apology with the recipient. It turned out that the apology's effectiveness was shaped by the recipient's "self-view." That is, those who tracked how much each person brought to their relationships (e.g., a coworker or boss) tended to be most impacted by offers of compensation. Those who viewed relationships as part of a larger community (such as a teammate) cared more about the recognition of how social norms were violated. The takeaway is that the most effective way to handle an apology is to be sure each apology component is included, while putting a greater focus on the one likely to matter most to that specific relationship. For example, when apologizing to a romantic partner, empathy would be better emphasized ("I understand you're disappointed in my mistake"). For friendships, it might make more sense to focus on wider social norms. When apologizing, include each essential component, but be sure to vary the balance depending on the particular relationship. Researchers at Northern Arizona University looked at the effect of different "friendship experiences" on the happiness of 4,382 college students to discern what kind of friendship was most likely to boost happiness. Through online surveys, the subjects were asked to assess the quality of their connection to a best friend in three areas: capitalization (whether their best friend is a good personal cheerleader); perceived mattering (whether they are important to their best friend); and satisfaction of psychological needs (whether they feel connected to their best friend, as well as feeling competent and able to be themselves around their friend). These were then analyzed in light of subjects' respective, self-reported happiness levels. The researchers found that "needs satisfaction is the most important relationship experience" of the three when it comes to predicting a person's happiness. Drilling down deeper, they found that the most likely predictor of happiness of the three psychological needs is having a best friend who satisfies your psychological need to feel competent. Seek out friends who make you feel capable and competent, and provide the same to your friends. What separates those who have their act together from those who don't is their mindset. There's always a defining difference in the way people think and the results they're getting. Getting your act together as much as possible is much easier when you dumb everything down to being either acceptable or unacceptable. Not only in the eyes of society, but in your eyes.

When you compare it to your experience and everything you've learned about yourself and the results you've gotten so far, is it acceptable or unacceptable? No exceptions. No "just this time". If it's unacceptable, you don't do it. Period. If it's unacceptable not to do it, then you do it. Period. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that but we're making it more complicated than that. We're weighing the costs and the benefits and asking others what they would and what people would think if you did or didn't do it. None of that matters. Is it acceptable or unacceptable? Don't give yourself wiggle room to be lazy and to make bad decisions. Don't give yourself the opportunity to screw yourself over. Don't give yourself the opportunity to be put in an, even more, compromising position than you're already in. Draw a line in front of it and decide which side it goes on! Be as shrewd as necessary to get the life you want. Be stricter on yourself than anyone else will be on you. Be stricter on yourself than life will be on you. The results you're getting, are they acceptable or unacceptable? The time you're going to sleep and waking up, acceptable or unacceptable?

The way you're conducting yourself around others, acceptable or unacceptable? The decisions you're making throughout the day, acceptable or unacceptable? Everyone wants to be above-average but they only want to do average things and make an average effort. Average doesn't help you become the person you want to be. Average doesn't help you create the life you want to live. Average doesn't help you create above-average results. You're choosing to categorize yourself with everyone else. You're choosing to do the same things and get the same results as everyone else. You're choosing to have the same thoughts and feel the same emotions as everyone else. You're choosing to take part in the time wasting activities everyone else is taking part in. You're choosing to put in the average amount of time and energy to get better and become the person you want to be. You're average because you're choosing to be average! One in particular, social exchange theory, is a very interesting peek into how people interact with each other. It doesn't necessarily represent the full spectrum of people or how they interact with one another, but it does posit an interesting idea about what we expect and what we give in a relationship. In short, you only stick in a relationship as long as you feel you're getting an equivalent return on your investment. It's a sterile way to describe an emotional interaction, but it's not far from the mark. After all, how many times have you heard your friends breaking up with their partner because they just "weren't all there"? If you take and take and never give in return, people will eventually see you as a leech in the friendship and will leave you to find another host. So, at least part of your relationships needs to be focused on providing value to people you care about. What can you do for them that will show them you're a caring, interested person?

You make mistakes. You're not alone though - everyone makes mistakes in life. It's those who make changes after a mistake and openly admit what they did wrong who improve and become better people because of them. In any relationship, the ability to both acknowledge and take responsibility for a mistake will make the difference when it comes to the viability of your relationship. Don't make excuses, lie, or cover up what you did. Admit it, apologize if it's necessary and learn from what went wrong (so that you don't have to repeat your mistake, again.) I look at my own mistakes as gifts. Sometimes the gift is a little messier and more painful than I'd like, but it's still a gift, because it gives me an opportunity to fundamentally change part of myself and adjust my worldview so that I never again make that mistake. Imagine the opportunity to thoroughly adjust your life choices and make a decision that will adapt how you think and live. We all feel more in control, hopeful, and are more likely to believe life has meaning and purpose when we spend time connecting with our core values. What those core values look like is different for everyone. We might do our best when we are spending time with family, throwing ourselves into a career path, giving back to society, being in nature, nourishing our body, or learning new things. No matter what we're doing, when we routinely connect with our own personal priorities, we are living--not just surviving. This consonance between our actions and our priorities promotes our sense of well-being and actively combats vulnerability to depression. Here's the rub. Being effortful depletes resources, and all of us are primed to avoid discomfort. Our values-congruent behaviors require us to pick up the phone (when we want to hit ignore), put on clothes (when we want to stay in our pajamas), speak up (when we want to keep silent), try something new (when we are afraid of being embarrassed), or sit down quietly (when we want to be distracted from ourselves). On the one hand, putting in a bit of effort pays off. It always does. Activities that are congruent with values promote close relationships, financial and practical resources, and contribute to our sense of integrity, creativity, and self-knowledge. Values-congruent activities also tend to yield positive emotional experiences like feeling alert, calm, or excited.