Take Just One Step to Find Friends Worth the Name

As more of us get our COVID vaccines, and the time comes closer when we'll be able to resume an active social life, we might have some choices to make about the friends we spend time with.

friends support each other

Two kinds of friends

I used to have some friends who loved to go out on the town.  They spent money constantly.  We went to restaurants and bars just to see and be seen.  We went shopping together, and encouraged each other to buy stuff.  (I got my first credit card because of those friends.)  We never stopped talking about what we wanted to buy, and tried to "one up" each other with new possessions.  It was a competition that carried a steep financial cost and tied my self-image to what I owned.

I also had several friends who did things differently.  Instead of going out, we would get together at each other's apartments, eat potluck or maybe order a pizza, and play board games like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit.  Instead of going to the movies, we'd hang out and watch a rented video together.  Instead of going to a professional sporting event, we would gather for a softball game in the park.

Eventually I realized that I knew these friends better than I knew the first group.  We talked about things other than what we wanted to buy, what someone else had purchased, or whose attention we were getting or wanted to get.  We loaned things to each other, helped each other, and took an interest in each other's goals and concerns.

I was sad to realize that wasn't true of my other friends.  What we had in common was gossip and the way we spent money.  As soon as I looked for something kinder and deeper, or wanted to be a bit smarter about how I used my income, those friends stopped calling.

Friendships shouldn't come with a price tag.

If the cost of friendship is so high that in the long term it negatively affects you, then that's a friendship you need to reconsider.  Maybe it's your buddies who are into the latest cars, tech, and high-end sports equipment who coax you to live beyond your means.  It could be those friends who always want to meet for lunch, shopping, the latest gossip, and comparisons of each other's homes, clothes, or beauty treatments.  Maybe it's the pals you regularly meet at a bar or casino.

Minimalism is about discovering what adds the most value to your life and removing whatever distracts you from that.  I'm sorry to say that might include some relationships.

How to find friends you'll treasure

If you think you might need some different friends, there's just one thing to do.  Choose a worthwhile activity that interests you.  Volunteer, and meet people who care about the environment, the library, animals, the homeless, or another cause you favor.  Contact your parks and rec department about their sports leagues, hiking clubs, and dance classes.  Attend local art shows and community concerts.  Join a choir, Bible study, or the garden club.

Choose social activities and companions that enrich your life and to whom you can contribute.  Spend time with people who encourage you to feel gratitude and satisfaction, rather than avarice and discontent.  

These are friendships to treasure.

Updated August 2022


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