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We cherish our friends.
How can we be there for them?
How can we make them happy?
How can we be close to them and stay close?

By being interested in them, curious about their stories
By listening to them and responding to what’s on their minds
By hearing what they need from us and how they’re feeling
By letting them know we are with them.

What can tell us what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling?
What they need from us?
What can we offer them that will make them happy?

Here are gifts that are valued by everybody
Gifts to be shared
Our best guides to what make us best friends
With thoughts on how our guides can show us the way

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Friends need the gift of Love

We can speak the Five Languages of Love:

• Make time for friends and be accessible
Give them our respect, our undivided attention, and our trust
Connect with them by being open --
By sharing our thoughts, our feelings, our lives

• Be there for them when they need help
Do things for them that let them know they can count on us

• Show our love and appreciation by being affectionate
Let them know that their friendship touches our hearts

• Reward their kindness with generosity
With gifts that let them know we appreciate them

• Encourage them by admiring their talents and achievements
Let them know that they matter, they are important, they are the best

Friends need the gift of Community

We can make friends feel welcome in our lives, so they know they belong
Welcome them into our circle of friends and family
“Treat friends like family and family like friends”

Friends need the gift of Health / Wholeness

We can have fun with friends that’s wholesome and disciplined
That makes happy without risking abuse, injury, or sickness
Without pressuring, or being pressured, to do things that aren’t good for us

Friends need the gift of Freedom

We can give friends space to think and choose for themselves
To express themselves as they are
To reciprocate (return) our kindness or not
Without judging them, blaming them, or pressuring them to be more like us

Friends need the gift of Worth

We must always practice good manners and be polite, to show respect
We can respect friends for things they do well but also for just who they are
By giving them our attention, our gratitude, and encouragement
By letting them know, when they are with us, no one is more important

Friends need the gift of Empowerment

We can let friends take the lead and be in control sometimes – take turns.
Let our friends win sometimes if we’re better than they are
Learn from our friends if they have something to teach us
Let everyone in on the fun and make it fair for everyone

Friends need the gift of Abundance

We can share the fullness and joy of life that’s in our hearts
The wealth that wants and needs to be shared
Let it join us in happiness when we are both feeling it
Or lift us up by sympathizing and caring for one another when we aren’t

Friends need the gift of Safety

We can make it safe for friends to trust us and play with us
Where it’s warm and welcoming
A place of tenderness and gentle loving kindness
Where they can be themselves without fear of being blamed and attacked
For who they are – personalities that aren’t like ours

Friends need the gift of Hope / Purpose

We can share what we see that leads the way forward
That renews our friends’ faith in themselves, their work, and their futures
Friends don’t let friends give up!

Friends need the gift of Beauty

Share the moments, the passion, the beauty, that inspire and move us –
Our triumphs against adversity, our discoveries
Stories, images, and music that make our spirits soar
That express the beauty, the spirit, of friendship

To all my shining stars, my friends
Who have the gift of Love and Abundance in their hearts
Doing their very best to share it
Thankfully.

The five languages of love are acts of service, gifts, physical touch, quality time, and affirmation.
Thank you Gary Chapman: The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts (Northfield 2015).
My favorite is affirming a person's worth, because the world keeps trying to take us down.

Quality time means intimacy, sharing lives.
• Being accessible mentally and emotionally, being honest and truthful.
• Being spontaneous, which means being with your friend-partner in the moment where they're at
• Being in their circumstances subjectively as well as ours
• Being always subjective, never objective, always intimate, never social.
• Letting "social-group" be the servant-protector of the individual rather than the other way around. I.e. rather than subordinating individual intimacy to social-group control / insincere superficiality.

Happiness in individual intimate relationships is sharing, empowerment, affirmation.
• it is never wealth-possession, power-control, competition / dominance-winning.
• It is never superimposing our circumstances-facts / agenda on our partner-friend's.
• it is subjectifying, never objectifying.

Love is one part coupling-connecting, one part uncoupling-letting go.
It is one part binding embrace, one part liberating freedom.
It is never any kind of predatory entrapment, coercion, or captivity.

Personality types who excel at love-intimacy and happiness are introspective, intuitive, and thoughtful.
They are also conscientious and disciplined, endowed with a strong sense of universal values.
They have an internal moral compass that doesn't need social norms for guidance.

Personality types who prefer superficial social relationships crave belonging that absorbs the individual into the group.
Not the kind of belonging that provides a safe sanctuary for individuals to experience intimacy.

Practice an intimacy of openness that fosters honesty and trust and happiness will follow.
Allow rules of possession, control, competition, dominance and winning to intrude and happiness will vanish.

Further reading: the gold standard is A Course in Miracles.
And a little something I wrote for kids: "Creating Great Friendships", my next post.

Be assured that anyone who takes the time to read this has the perfect personality type and the wisdom to achieve intimacy and happiness.

Go in peace with my blessing.

Not long ago, I asked a friend for a favor. It was a bit unusual and I knew it would require some thought, but not so unusual that it could upend a friendship. But it did, at least for a while, quite emphatically. The way my friend and I interpreted what happened was a study in contrasts. It was as if we lived in two separate realities, spoke different languages, and transacted business with different currencies, hers as worthless to me as mine was to her.

It was one of those things, a train wreck in a relationship we’re all familiar with. And yet it turned out to be very interesting. It revealed that my friend and I, who have been close over the years, are exact opposite personality types. I’m an INTJ and she’s an ESFP: INTJ for Introvert-Intuition-Thinking-Judgment, ESFP for Extravert-Sensing-Feeling-Perception. These are from Isabel Briggs Myers’ Gifts Differing, not as “scientific” as other theories some might prefer, but my Intuition trusts her Intuition.

The holidays are all about one universal value: everything that makes us family. Forgiveness is one of those things, and let me be the first to admit: If you’re reading this it probably means you’re a big nuisance but you’ve been forgiven – many times. “I love you in spite of your many faults” my dad liked to joke, usually to a good laugh. But it’s no laughing matter, because real forgiveness is beyond reach. At least it is for me. Especially if the big nuisance happens to be my exact opposite personality type.

My instinct in this case was to bail for good. I was on my way out the door. Then I read Gifts Differing and discovered that Isabel’s theory doesn’t stop at showing us how opposites wreak havoc with relationships. It shows remarkably how opposites can be used to bring us closer together and, in the process, promote personal growth and self-awareness. What philosophy, what faith, couldn’t use an analytical tool like this to bring about peace and forgiveness!

It’s done by accessing the opposites of your weak personality traits – mind-Intuition, for example, if you’re a body-Sensing type, -- preferably in consultation with someone who’s your opposite. You “pool your resources,” and at the end you’re both more fully developed, better balanced personalities, more sympathetic, more adaptable to change, and better equipped to forgive. That's the theory and, so far, it's working for me.

Isabel’s theory is inspired, not least because the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles calls for its practical application to individual circumstances, and students of the Course intent on practicing forgiveness will find that it’s a big help. If my friend is reading this she might be incensed that I’m talking about us, but not if her Feeling has accessed Thinking, and Perception has accessed Judgment. You see, what this is all about is making everyone more like me. Proof that what I've learned from her is the joy of spontaneity and laughter. Pity the poor INTJ Scrooge who never learns it!

Wishing you the Joy of Life and laughter for the holidays and all through the New Year.