Mean Girls isn’t just for the movies (unfortunately)

Is it me, or are middle schoolers just plain mean?

At least it seemed that way in the late ‘90s when boy bands ruled the world and Abercrombie & Fitch was cool the first time. At school I tried so hard to fit in with the “popular” girls, but if I’m being honest it was always a struggle. It’s hard to comprehend why I cared so much. I eventually found my way with a few remarkable people that showed me true friendship.

While it wasn’t an easy path, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned along the way. Now that I’m older (and hopefully a little wiser), I can see that it was really just simple math—surround yourself with people that add to your life, not subtract from it.

You won’t find anything profound in this article, just a friendly reminder to think more broadly about what it means to be a “plus one” this month. It’s not just a romantic concept: it’s an approach to apply to every kind of relationship.

Being a person known for adding isn’t complicated. Here’s how:

Be kind

I know, a revolutionary concept! But sometimes showing intentional kindness to others might not be super easy, especially if you’re going through a tough time. No one’s life is uncomplicated. But that’s when I think kindness matters the most. Putting in the effort, no matter how small, is always worth it. And bonus—doing something kind for others can have a sizable impact on your own well-being. In this recent study, scientists found that micro-acts of joy can boost your mood by over 25% each week, leading to greater well-being, better coping and less stress.

Be a good listener

Don’t be a problem solver, just make sure your friend is being heard (and at times validated). When you give someone your full attention, it’s one of the purest kinds of generosity.

Be patient

It’s a virtue! Patient people understand that the more they accept the things outside of their control, the more they can learn to react in a way that doesn't maximize stress. How many times have you played phone tag or taken a week to respond to your friend’s message? I’m definitely guilty of this from time to time. But guess what, so are my friends and that’s ok! The goal is always to be better, but it’s a relief to be granted some grace every now and then.

Have an open mind

We tend to naturally gravitate towards those who are similar to ourselves because it’s comfortable. But when we change our perspective to one of like-heartedness versus like-mindedness, we can grow from our differences and form deeper connections based on acceptance and understanding.

Say thank you

And be genuine when you do. Better yet, when the occasion is appropriate, write it in a card and send it their way. Who doesn’t appreciate a thoughtful, handwritten note?

Be humble

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Reach Out

Whether it’s a deep, life-long connection, or something simple and new, it’s no secret that friendships make our lives richer. So be a person that adds because no one is ever done making friends.

conclusion

So many are heralding “subtraction” for 2024—minimalism in all things. But in interpersonal relationships, adding a few simple things can be an easy way to boost your happiness and connectivity, and become a true “plus one” in the lives of the people you know.

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