Innovative ways to be a good friend

Ask yourself ‘what makes a good friend?’ Is it just someone who you like and who likes you back? Is it someone you can trust? Some people might say that a good friend is someone who supports you no matter what. Others feel that a good friend is someone who you can be your real self with – you don’t have to pretend around them in order to protect their feelings or avoid stepping on their sensibilities. Many would say that all of these features and more make a good friend.

One sure sign of a good friend is someone who thinks and cares about your well being. There are many ways you can do this for your friends.

For example, let’s say you heard that your friend is sick in bed with the flu. Many people might send a ‘get well soon’ card or offer to bring medicine. As a more thoughtful friend, you can really help out by offering to do some jobs that your friend is missing out on due to their sickness – perhaps you could offer to mow the lawn, walk the dogs or fetch the groceries.

During storms you can help your friends protect their houses, shutter their windows and build sandbag defences against flooding. If you suffer from snow storms in your area, you could choose yourself a snow blower – not only to keep your driveway clean, but to take over to your friends’ and neighbors’ houses to do the same for them.

A good friend is someone you can trust to look after your house when you are on vacation. It’s someone you know will take care of your kids just as well as they take care of their own. Thanks to the trust and loyalty a friend has for you, you know that when they offer help and advice, it is sincere.

That’s why, as a good friend, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell them when you see a problem in their lives or with their lifestyle. If you have a buddy who still drives home after having one or two too many drinks, the chances are he’s not going to change his ways for anyone. He will have heard it all before, a million times over, but he’ll keep telling himself he’s different, that he drives better when he’s tipsy, that these so-called experts who think they know everything don’t know jack about him. In this kind of situation, it falls to you, as his good friend to try to talk him out of it. You are possibly the only person who has the power to do that, as he will take your words seriously. It’s for his safety and for the safety of other road users.

Good friends also have a responsibility to keep their friends’ secrets, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Everybody needs someone to talk to, people go crazy if they spend their entire lives hiding things and bottling them up. So if your friend happens to confide something serious to you, it’s your responsibility to guard that secret, whether you like it or not.

Let’s say your best friend has confided to you that he is struggling with some legal issues that he wants kept top secret. You may have some contacts who can easily get him out of that situation, yet you can’t say anything as your friend has sworn you to secrecy. You just have to leave it and respect the confidentiality and trust that your friend has placed in you.

The other side of that coin is when something goes too far and you genuinely become concerned for your friend’s wellbeing. If your friend confided that he was suicidal and asked you not to tell anyone, it would be difficult not to take any action. You would be justified in doing so as your friend appears not to be in his right mind and his life could be in danger. If you don’t act on it, you might never know if your friend could accept it or not as it may well be too late at that point.

To be a good friend is to be show trust, kindness and loyalty to those you care about and taking some responsibility for their wellbeing.