In the 22nd episode, we are tackling the Joy Superpower of close friends with friendship expert Shasta Nelson! Shasta is a leading voice on loneliness and creating healthy relationships. Whether she’s speaking at conferences or on TEDx stages, giving media interviews to outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, or appearing as a guest on The Harvard Business Review podcast or The Steve Harvey Show, she is constantly teaching all of us how to create healthier and more fulfilling relationships in our lives. She is also the author of 3 books: “Friendships Don’t Just Happen!“, “Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness” and “The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of the Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time“.
Here’s a highlights tour of the episode, which we definitely recommend listening to when you get a chance!
Friendships as a health boost
Research on the numerous health benefits of having close friends is very compelling, according to Shasta. Some doctors have deemed relationships as more significant than exercise, diet or even your DNA. Continuously feeling lonely and disconnected is worse for your health than daily smoking, twice as harmful as obesity, and the damage it does to your body is the equivalent of being a life-long alcoholic. “There are very few, if any, factors more significant to our physical health, than whether we feel supported and loved”, Shasta says.
Of course, friendships also have an effect on mental wellbeing. Firstly, feeling supported will help you to better deal with stress. In addition, according to Shasta and the research she’s dived in, it’s virtually impossible to be happy if you’re not feeling connected, seen and accepted by others. Even if you achieved everything else you wanted in your life, without meaningful relationships, the chances of you being happy are quite low.
“70% of our happiness comes down to our relationships.”
From friendly to friendship
Through vigorous research Shasta has been able to identify common denominators in successful relationships, which she has then turned into The Frientimacy Triangle. The triangle consists of the three requirements for all healthy relationships – positivity, consistency, and vulnerability. Here’s a quick guide on how to go about making new friends and fostering your existing friendships utilizing The Frientimacy Triangle.
- Positive emotion is the foundation to a friendship. Think about how you can bring joy and happiness to another person, and how you can make that person feel good after spending time with you. People will naturally want to interact with you more if the interactions leave them feeling good.
- Be consistent. Actually “logging the hours” and spending time together regularly is a requirement for a relationship. To avoid having to do the planning and scheduling yourself, join an activity or a social group that already happens on a regular basis, and make an effort to show up consistently. The workplace is also a great setting to find friends – for most, it’s the number one place where you will be spending time regularly!
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the thing that makes us feel seen by the other person. It happens when you can share the highs and lows of your life, when you can talk to each other authentically and without a filter, and when you really feel like you know the other person.
If you’re interested in finding out how you can better nurture your friendships, you can click here to take Shasta’s Frientimacy Quiz for free and see how you score for each of the relationship requirement!
Trust the process
When it comes to making friends and building strong relationships, Shasta recommends to read books about the topic and get inspired, but also to just start practicing in real life. It’s important to realize that starting out is going to feel awkward or scary at first. Humans are wired to belong, and even the most outgoing extroverts fear rejection. Shasta’s suggestion is to lean into those feelings – it’s all part of the process. You can do it!
To find out more about Shasta’s work, please visit her website. If you want to listen to the full podcast episode, you can find it here or on your preferred podcast platform by searching The Art and Science of Joy. Remember to subscribe to the podcast for more episodes on Joy Superpowers, and inspiration for you to start living a more joyful life!