Advent (Joy): Cultivating Friendship

Emotional support means that someone other than me understands the feelings that are tossing me around in my life.  The very existence of another human being who sees and understands me on that level brings–joy!

Self-disclosure means that another person has made him or herself transparent and even vulnerable to me.  It means that I have done the same for them.  While entering into vulnerability can be intimidating, when two people give each other that gift, it’s a gift of joy!

I love an expression that has come into my own vocabulary in recent years:  the “soft place to land.”  When one is given a soft place to land by another, the recipient and the giver have entered into a level of caring that creates an atmosphere of joy!

Emotional support, self-disclosure and caring are vital elements of friendships, and as I wrote on December 18, nothing brings joy into our lives like an authentic and intimate friendship. Surprisingly, those three qualities of friendship are what both men and women want.*

Joy doesn’t always fall from the sky like stardust on us.  Sometimes, especially in the realm of friendships, we have to cultivate it.

So, for today: how am I ready to offer emotional support to another?  I cannot do this for everyone.  What feelings of my own do I understand?  Those will be the ones I can see and support in others.

To whom am I ready and able to show more of my true self?  Can I do this in a mirror? Perhaps that is the place to begin this practice toward joy.

Do I know what a soft place to land feels like?  Is there someone in my world for whom I can provide that kind of caring?  In so doing, I cultivate friendship, and I engage in a work that comes with joy.

Like the season of Advent, very often in our lives friendships and joy are things we still await, things we still cultivate, things that soon we may experience.

Bob Patrick

*American Men’s Hidden Crisis: They Need More Friends

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