TIME Television

Friends Is Headed to Netflix

ANISTON SCHWIMMER
Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer appear in the baby birth episode of NBC's hit series "Friends," airing in a one-hour season finale on Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m., EDT. The episode may well cement "Friends" status as the most popular show on television for the 2001-02 season. (AP Photo/NBC- Warner Bros. Television) Anonymous—ASSOCIATED PRESS

The iconic NBC comedy will be available for streaming on January 1

Continuing a seemingly ceaseless burst of Friends nostalgia that’s been going since the tenth anniversary of the sitcom’s finale, Netflix announced that the entire series’s run will be available for streaming beginning January 1, 2015.

It’s a major deal, given the popularity of the NBC sitcom to this day, not to mention the sheer volume of episodes involved. (Despite the fact that TBS always seems to be airing the same few episodes, there were 236 installments of the show.) Friends is widely available on syndicated television, but given the wide variations in tone season to season, the opportunity to choose whether to watch a low-drama episode where the gang hangs out or one from the height of the Rachel-Ross-Joey love triangle is a significant boon to Friends devotees.

Netflix’s original offerings have tended to prompt so-called binge viewing due to their sheer volume of incident. House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black both rely on cliff-hangers and twisty plots that compel viewers to watch the next episode. But given the excitement around Friends hitting the streaming service, it’s not hard to imagine the exact opposite sort of television being just as binge-able. Friends is at its best when little of consequence is happening, in the long stretches of episodes where they’re all bickering over apartments or cleaning philosophies. It’s extremely comfortable and comforting TV — the sort that will lend itself perfectly to hours of consecutive watching this winter.

Read next: The Best Halloween Movies Streaming Right Now

TIME psychology

The Single Most Important Thing to Do Today if You Want to Live a Long, Happy Life

Friends talking
Abel Mitja Varela—Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Might sound trite or corny, but go see a friend.

The research regarding what it takes to live a long life and what it takes to live a happy life overlap significantly. One of the things they share is spending time with friends.

Harvard happiness expert Dan Gilbert says that what brings us the most happiness is family and friends.

Having a better social life can be worth as much as an additional $131,232 a year in terms of life satisfaction.

By allowing unobserved individual fixed effects to be factored out from the life satisfaction equation, an increase in the level of social interaction with friends and relatives is estimated to be worth up to an extra £85,000 a year. In terms of statistical significance, this is strikingly large. The estimated figure is even larger than that of getting married (which is worth approximately £50,000). It can compensate for nearly two-third in the loss of the happiness from going through a separation (minus £139,000) or unemployment (minus £143,000). It is also roughly nine times larger than the average real household income per capita in the dataset, which is around £9,800 a year.

Most of what we do to relieve stress doesn’t actually work. Friends, however, do take the edge off.

Via The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It:

According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby. (The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.)

Can money buy happiness? Yes, but not how you might expect. Harvard’s Michael Norton explains that one of the most notable ways cash brings joy is by spending it on other people:

Connecting with and helping others is more important than obsessing over a rigorous exercise program.

What yes/no question can likely predict whether you will be alive and happy at age 80?

“Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to?”

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to? If your answer is yes, you will likely live longer than someone whose answer is no. For George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who discovered this fact, the master strength is the capacity to be loved. Conversely, as the social neuroscientist John Cacioppo has argued, loneliness is such a disabling condition that it compels the belief that the pursuit of relationships is a rock-bottom fundamental to human well-being.

The Longevity Project details a research project at Harvard that has followed 268 men for over 72 years, making it one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history.

What was the most important lesson the scientists learned?

…the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.

And, sorry: Facebook isn’t enough. John Cacioppo, author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, explains that technology is best if you use it to arrange face-to-face contact:

In one experiment, Cacioppo looked for a connection between the loneliness of subjects and the relative frequency of their interactions via Facebook, chat rooms, online games, dating sites, and face-to-face contact. The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.” Surely, I suggest to Cacioppo, this means that Facebook and the like inevitably make people lonelier. He disagrees. Facebook is merely a tool, he says, and like any tool, its effectiveness will depend on its user. “If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact,” he says, “it increases social capital.” So if social media let you organize a game of football among your friends, that’s healthy. If you turn to social media instead of playing football, however, that’s unhealthy.

And choose wisely. Spending time with fake friends — or “frenemies” — is worse than spending time with real enemies:

“Friends that we feel ambivalently about raise our blood pressure more — cause more anxiety and stress — than people we actively dislike.

Want to strengthen your friendships? Go here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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MONEY

Hey Millennials, Watch What You Say About that New Job, Promotion or Raise

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DGP&C—Getty Images

Your friends may not be as happy for your good news as you'd think.

You earn a raise or a promotion, and the first person you want to share the good news with is your significant other or a close friend. It’s instinctive.

But these days, it’s best to proceed with caution—especially if you’re a Millennial. If your bestie isn’t doing so well at work, news of your big promotion or bonus could strain the relationship.

“Work trajectories are incredibly unpredictable for all generations working today, but particularly for Millennials in the early years of their careers,” says Lindsey Pollak, author of the new book Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders. “With young professionals leaving jobs more quickly and the barrier to entrepreneurship quite low thanks to the Internet, it is likely that Millennial friends or significant others will have widely disparate levels of career or financial success.”

Friendships can be tested when there are income differences at play. When one friend has a lot of money to spend on fancy dinners, shopping trips and lavish vacations while other friends are struggling to pay the rent, says Pollak, it can lead to disagreements over how to spend time together or, at the least, a bit of discomfort.

So how should you break the news of a promotion, salary increase, or job change to a close friend who’s struggling financially or career-wise?

First, take a moment to empathize, Pollak says: “Ask yourself what you would want your friend to say if the roles were reversed,” she says.

Then, try to give the news a more sensitive spin. Concentrate on sharing it in a humble way, says Pollak. And as a general rule, leave out specific numbers, like the size of your salary increase. In other words:

“I’m really excited—I just found out I got a promotion to the associate role I’ve been wanting!”

or

“It looks like I’ll be getting a nice bonus at the end of the year. Can I take you out for drinks to celebrate?”

rather than

“I am getting a huge raise—like $35,000 more than I make now! Can you believe it?!”

Depending on the friend and how close you are, you may decide that it’s best to stay mum. “It’s really a personal choice depending on your relationship and how public the news is,” says Pollak.

But keep in mind that not sharing can be just as hurtful, in some cases. “No friend wants to feel that you excluded him or her from your career news because he or she isn’t as successful,” says Pollak.

Finally, what if your significant other is the one who’s struggling?

“Characterize your success in terms of ‘we’ — especially if you are in a long-term committed relationship,” says Pollak. “And use your promotion as an opportunity to thank your partner for being supportive and helping to make your success possible.”

If that doesn’t do the trick, she says, “then you might want to look at bigger issues in your relationship.”

Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at Money and author of When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. She blogs at Farnoosh.TV.

TIME Television

The One With the Bad Review

The Cast Of Friends 1999 2000 Season From L R: David Schwimmer Jennifer Aniston Courteney Cox Ar
The Cast Of "Friends" from the 1999-2000 Season. From L-R: David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow And Matt Leblanc. Getty Images

TIME's critic gave 'Friends' a big thumbs down in its first season. Here's why he's standing by that review

“Life on Seinfeld may be laid back, but its characters always seem to have someplace to go. In Friends the crowd is always around to share their latest personal woes or offer a shoulder to cry on. But who would want advice from these dysfunctional morons, with their obsessive pop-culture references?” — Richard Zoglin’s review of the first season of Friends, which premiered 20 years ago on Sept. 22, 1994

Little did I know when I poked fun at Friends back in 1995 that I was dumping on what would become a TV classic.

But I was a dissenter then, and I’m still a dissenter. The show never rose above its artificial, formulaic roots — characters assembled straight from the sitcom-writer’s handbook, jokes delivered with mechanical predictability at the network-mandated rate of three per page. It became a little easier to watch over the years, thanks to sheer familiarity and as the actors and writers dove more deeply into the characters. And I admit the show looks better in retrospect: compared with The Big Bang Theory (or Two Broke Girls), Friends almost qualifies as cinema-verite.

Read that 1995 review, free of charge, here in TIME’s archives: Friends and Layabouts

TIME Television

20 Years Later: Which Friends Cast Members Came Out on Top?

See where the cast members ended up after 20 years

Monday marks the 20-year anniversary of Friends — and just as we judge our old friends on Facebook to see how they’ve fared, we’ve done the same for the show’s cast. Here how the cast members ranked after the show ended:

TIME Television

Central Perk From Friends Is Now a Real Place, and Gunther Is There

Erik Matey/Warner Bros Entertainment

For the 20th anniversary of Friends, the iconic coffee shop is launching as a pop-up in lower Manhattan

Starbucks. Blue Bottle. Dunkin Donuts. New York City is filled with places to get coffee. Yesterday, though, we went to Central Perk.

Yep — a pop-up shop immortalizing the dream of the ’90s has opened to mark the 20th anniversary of Friends. The once-fictional coffee shop that was the hangout of choice for the cast of Friends has become a reality — for a limited time, anyway. In a collaboration between Warner Bros and Eight O’Clock Coffee, Central Perk will open its doors to the public on Wednesday, September 17 and stay open until October 18, giving fans plenty of time to grow out their Rachels and find their most ’90s outfit.

Erik Matey/Warner Bros Entertainment

Fans may be able to find some inspiration at Central Perk itself thanks to the display of the show’s costumes in all their ’90s glory, including Monica’s (Courteney Cox) V-neck peasant shirt and calf-length skirt train wreck, Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) belted grey schoolgirl skirt and black boot ensemble and Joey Tribbiani’s (Matt LeBlanc) henley-flannel shirt combo. (A box of Smelly Cat cat litter is not a recommended accessory.)

Erik Matey/Warner Bros Entertainment

The pop-up shop is fittingly filled with Friends memorabilia, including signed scripts and cast photos capturing behind-the-scenes moments from the set and candid shots of Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe and Ross goofing off.

More exciting for the die-hard Friends fan is the display case filled with ephemera, like the VHS copy of Buffay the Vampire Layer.

Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Ross and Rachel were nowhere to be found, so we were able to snag the big orange couch — it was once Central Perk’s hottest real estate! — and talk to Gunther. While the surly waiter had no interest in taking our order (typical), actor James Michael Tyler — who played Gunther on the show — was happy to stretch out on the couch. “As a character, I was never able to sit on the couch,” he says. “Gunther only sat on it once!”

Erik Matey/Warner Bros Entertainment

“In real life, I’m not grumpy,” says Tyler. “But Gunther pretty much epitomized the early ’90s barista.” Can Tyler see Gunther working in a coffee shop now? “It would be interesting to see Gunther with a full beard and a fedora working at a coffee shop right now,” says Tyler. “But he either franchised Central Perk or went back to soap opera acting.”

Erik Matey/Warner Bros Entertainment

Tyler, who has moved on from acting to writing, says he was able to put Gunther to rest thanks to the show’s writers. “The final episode — where Gunther had closure and was able to tell Rachel that he was in love with her and had been for ten years — was great,” says Tyler. “No one ever picked up the clues that Gunther was obsessed with her! The writers had a lot of story lines to write in that last episode and to have the courtesy to include closure for Gunther instead of leaving him open-ended was great. 20 years later, if he was still obsessed with Rachel, that would be sad.”

To make your Gunther-Rachel fanfic come to life (and to get a cup of limited-edition Central Perk Roast), Central Perk at 199 Lafayette Street (at the corner of Broome Street) in New York City is open from Wednesday, September 18 through Saturday, October 18.

TIME relationships

Why It’s So Hard to Make New Friends

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Getty Images

This article originally appeared on Refinery 29.

So, you’re an adult now (even if you don’t always feel like one). Maybe you eat popcorn and fro-yo for dinner on the regular, but you’ve also learned — we hope — how to keep both your plant and pet alive and kicking. If you’re lucky, you might have an actual love life, as well as a decent job, maybe even in a city you like.

But, despite all that good stuff, if you’re like lots of 20- and 30-somethings today, there might be one area of life that feels a bit lacking: your platonic friendships. At 37, I’ve noticed a trend: As more and more of my friends — both guys and girls — have gotten married and had kids, I, in turn, have started feeling more and more alone. I’ve often found myself wracking my brain to find people to hang out with on weekends. It’s been even tougher since I moved back to my hometown last winter, to be closer to my mom. I hadn’t lived here since I was 18, so it truly felt like starting from scratch.

Rachel, 36, a writer and also single, can commiserate. Naturally shy and still adjusting after a move of her own, Rachel doesn’t just have a hard time reaching out to form new friendships; she also feels “less likely to make an effort to connect with women who seem to be in different [life] places than me.” Understandably, she has started gravitating toward younger friends because she finds it somewhat difficult to relate to most locals (South Carolina folks) her age, who tend to be married with kids.As Rachel and I can both tell you, gone are the days when scoring a new BFF was as simple as walking up to that cool misfit in your math class and demanding to be his or her buddy. Oh, how times have changed. Until now, explains Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of The Friendship Fix, “we spent our lives being around people our age. In school [and] in college, [we had] natural proximity to an immense amount of people to choose to befriend.” As grown-ups, though, we’re so busy muddling through the daily grind of managing our lives — landing jobs, booking as many vacations as possible, navigating in and out of relationships, fitting in exercise, moving to new cities. It may feel easiest to keep in touch primarily through texting, Facebook, and Instagram instead of actually catching up face-to-face.

(MORE: How Not to Be a Toxic Friend)

See People in Person

But, if you’re mainly relying on virtual avenues to sustain your friendships, you could be doing yourself a disservice. “We may feel like we know a lot of people [online],” Dr. Bonior says. “[But,]… typing ‘LOL’ under someone’s Facebook status [is not] connection. You feel too busy to go out and see friends, but you have time to spend three hours a night looking at people’s Facebook vacation photos?”

No one’s suggesting you jump up and close shop on your social accounts right this second. But, if you’re feeling lonely in your real life, you might want to try using those avenues solely for what they are: networking hubs to help you keep track of old school rivals and camp friends. Random Facebook acquaintances won’t be there to hold your hand through a family meltdown or when you’re laid off from a job you love.

Skimping on in-person social time can also be detrimental to both your soul andyour body. Experts claim that up to one-fifth of Americans currently define themselves as “lonely” (and, according to AARP, that number rises to about 35% for people over age 45). Approximately 20% of adults lament having only one buddy to talk to, and depressingly, another 25% say they have no one at all.

That kind of isolation can cause lasting damage. Dr. Bonior notes that “having good, quality friendships improves your longevity [and] your mood, puts you less at risk for depression, helps you get over trauma, and helps your blood pressure.” The problem is that most of us don’t adequately prioritize our friendships; heading out to meet a pal at happy hour can start to feel more like a luxury than a necessity. Instead, Dr. Bonior urges that we treat our friendships as a healthy part of our routine, “like going to the gym.”

Using Tech as an Asset

But, what if you’re one of those people who honestly feel they have no one to hit happy hour with? We daresay it’s time to get out there and find yourself more friends. We know the idea might sound overwhelming (you couldn’t pay me to approach a stranger in Starbucks, whether male, female, or monkey), but isn’t your health enough of an incentive to nudge you beyond your comfort zone?

Janis Kupferer had to do just that after moving to Denver a few years back. While scoping out men on a dating site, she decided to check out some of her straight-female “competition.” Kupferer realized that some of the site’s female members seemed, well, cool — like the kind of people she’d want to be friends with. Inspired, Janis decided to launch a new social networking site, SocialJane, which is devoted to helping women meet like-minded buddies. The site looks like your average dating site, with boxes to add a profile headline, photos, your favorite activities, and more. “[It has] all the same features and benefits that [can make] looking for love online a success (ease, convenience, and community)…but for platonic friendships,” she explains.

So, does it work? I tested it for myself: I joined the site, created a profile, and messaged some women who seemed to share my interests. It’s been a few weeks and, as of now, none of the women have written back to me (sadface). I do realize that a lack of response is par for the course on dating sites, but I guess I was hoping for a change of pace in the friendship zone. Still, it’s a cool idea, and one of a handful of similar sites that are springing up, promising to help with the ever-difficult friend search.

(MORE: An Ode to the Best Kind of Friends)

Make an Effort to Engage

When it comes to real-life strategies for meeting people, though, Dr. Bonior says you needn’t look much farther than your corner cafe, record shop, yoga studio, or coworking space: “Frequenting the same places over time [is a good approach]… You’ll [eventually] feel like member of a community.”

You can also try volunteering, attending spiritual services (meditation clubs, support groups, or 12-Step groups work, too), joining clubs based on your interests (check out Meetup.com — there’s a meetup for EVERYTHING), taking classes, traveling alone, wine- and beer-tasting, joining adult athletic leagues (bocce! kickball! roller derby!), professional and special-interest conferences (gaming, writing, you get the picture), getting a new job…the list is long. Dr. Bonior also recommends joining “listservs for your apartment building, [commenting] on a blog you like…lots of people meet some of their best friends on the Internet” — provided you vow to take those budding buddies off your laptop and into the real world.

As for me, I’ve been in my new home base of DC for eight months and I’m still trying to pin down more solid friendships. I made one local writer-friend via Twitter, but the tactic that’s worked best for me has been asking friends in other cities if they happen to know any cool people in my re-adopted hometown — i.e., getting set up on blind, but pre-vetted, friend-dates.

The takeaway? Some folks are natural introverts who may be content hanging out alone, or with just one close friend or two. If that’s you, that’s great; you keep doing you. But, if you’re unhappy with your present social-support structure — as lots of people are — it’s up to you to push yourself to do things differently. As Dr. Kupferer notes, you’ve “got to stick your neck out.” Think of it as the first day of kindergarten all over again, and strike up a conversation with a stranger — over coffee, perhaps, instead of crayons.

(MORE: 6 Relationship Talks Made Less Awkward)

TIME Television

Friends Celebrates 20 Years With A Central Perk Pop Up Shop

Friends
Pictured: (l-r) Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing, David Schwimmer as Dr. Ross Geller in Friends. NBC/Getty Images

Even Gunther will be on hand for the event

No one told us life was going to be this way! One day you’re watching your new favorite TV show about a group of affable twentysomethings who live, love and host some memorable meals in some seriously valuable real estate in Manhattan, and the next thing you know, 20 years have passed.

Friends is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of when Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler or Joey joined the primetime line-up — and to help mark the occasion, a replica of the friends’ favorite hangout, Central Perk, will pop up in Manhattan.

From September 17 to October 18, fans can pay homage to Friends while hanging around the Central Perk coffee bar (located at 199 Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood), perhaps while sipping on a special Central Perk Roast from Eight O’Clock Coffee, who is sponsoring the shop in collaboration with Warner Bros.

To document fans’ trips down memory lane, Central Perk will be chock-full of selfie opportunities, including the actual orange couch from the show and the iconic Central Perk storefront. While there’s little chance that Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler or Joey will be hanging around (or working) at the shop, actor James Michael Taylor, who played grouchy waiter Gunther on the series will be on hand — not to serve, but to sip coffee alongside fans.

No trip to Central Perk would be complete without suffering through a set of Phoebe’s songs, so the shop will feature acts who are hopefully better than Phoebe, but will still sing at least one round of her sole hit, “Smelly Cat”:

This isn’t the first time there has been a Central Perk pop-up — back in 2009, there the coffee shop popped up in London to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Friends— but this is the only one in the States. So fans should either book a ticket to NYC now, or just drink coffee in the living room and watch Friends re-runs.

MORE: Zach Galifianakis to Star As a Clown in New FX Comedy Baskets

MORE: Netflix Comedy from Friends Creator to Star Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

TIME Television

Jimmy Kimmel’s Mini Friends Reunion Is Pretty Incredible

Even though Aniston refused to wear a "Rachel" wig

Jimmy Kimmel revealed to his guest Jennifer Aniston during Wednesday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he has been writing some fan fiction, based on her hit show Friends, that he wanted her to help act out. And thus began one of the reunions we have all been waiting for. It was perfect, save the fact that Aniston refused to wear a “Rachel” wig.

Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow joined Aniston on a replica set of the Friends kitchen for a scene in which they mostly talked about how good Kimmel (who played Aniston’s on-again, off-again love interest “Ross”) was in bed. Apparently all of the other male cast members had died after being bit by a rabid “Marcel,” the pet monkey.

Aniston may have thought the dialogue was dumb, but Kimmel brought up a fair point: “Is it dumber than living in a huge apartment in New York City for eight years, even though you work at a coffee shop?”

Bring on the movie.

TIME psychology

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Friendships

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Getty Images

Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified friends as one of the biggest sources of joy in our lives. Seeing friends and family regularly is worth an extra $97,265 a year:

So, an individual who only sees his or her friends or relatives less than once a month to never at all would require around an extra £63,000 a year to be just as satisfied with life as an individual who sees his or her friends or relatives on most days.

Not feeling socially connected can make you stupider and kill you. Loneliness can lead to heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Good relationships are more important to a long life than exercise.

Not spending more time with friends and family is one of the things people regret the most.

So what does the research tell us about how to strengthen and improve our friendships?

The Basics

Want to improve any relationship? The first step is try. Yeah, so easy you forgot to do it.

Simple things can have the most profound impact, like actively showing interest in the other person. Listen to what they have to say and ask them to tell you more.

Enthusiastically respond when they share good news with you. The best responses are active and constructive. What’s that mean?

It is engaged, enthusiastic, curious and has supportive nonverbal action. Ask questions. Be excited. Ask for details. Smile. Touch. Laugh.

Share your own good news when you have some:

…sharing good news with others increases the perceived value of those events, especially when others respond enthusiastically, and that enthusiastic responses to shared good news promote the development of trust and a prosocial orientation toward the other. These studies found consistent support for these effects across both interactions with strangers and in everyday close relationships.

Show gratitude. Gratitude is a miracle drug:

Stay in touch. Communicating every two weeks keeps friendships alive:

…“the leading cause of persistent relationships is reciprocity — returning a friend’s call.” Further, they said friends ’til the end tend to touch base at least once every 15 days.

Leverage technology to improve your relationships, don’t let it replace them.

Technology can increase happiness and improve relationships if you leverage it to connect with other people:

The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.” Surely, I suggest to Cacioppo, this means that Facebook and the like inevitably make people lonelier. He disagrees. Facebook is merely a tool, he says, and like any tool, its effectiveness will depend on its user. “If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact,” he says, “it increases social capital.” So if social media let you organize a game of football among your friends, that’s healthy. If you turn to social media instead of playing football, however, that’s unhealthy.

The typical reaction to all of the above statements is: That’s obvious. I know that. And then guess what?

People don’t do them for six months and wonder what happened. Knowing and doing are two different things.

Work On Yourself

Improve your self control. People more in control of themselves have better relationships.

…the more total self-control, the better the relationship fared. Multiple benefits were found for having mutually high self-control, including relationship satisfaction, forgiveness, secure attachment, accommodation, healthy and committed styles of loving, smooth daily interactions, absence of conflict, and absence of feeling rejected.

How do you strengthen those self-control muscles? Go here.

Trust beats out not trusting. Expecting others to be selfish can be a self-fulfliing prophecy:

The expectations people have about how others will behave play a large role in determining whether people cooperate with each other or not… One’s own expectation thereby becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: those who expect people to act selfishly, actually experience uncooperative behaviour from others more often.

Don’t be a conversational narcissist. What’s that? “Conversational narcissists always seek to turn the attention of others to themselves”

Conversational narcissists always seek to turn the attention of others to themselves. Your first reaction to this statement is likely, “Oh, I don’t do that, but I know someone who does!” But not so fast. Conversational narcissism typically does not manifest itself in obviously boorish plays for attention; most people give at least some deference to social norms and etiquette. Instead, it takes much more subtle forms, and we’re all guilty of it from time to time. Everyone has felt that itch where we couldn’t wait for someone to stop talking so we could jump in; we pretended to be listening intently, but we were really focusing on what we were about to say once we found an opening.

Here‘s how to be a better listener.

Scientific Insights

Keep the 5 to 1 ratio in mind. Five good experiences for every bad one.

Via The Ape in the Corner Office: How to Make Friends, Win Fights and Work Smarter by Understanding Human Nature:

It turned out that the fifteen high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The nineteen low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just .363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…

And:

What’s even scarier is that Losada’s five-to-one ratio also appears to be essential when you get home and try to muster the energy for a successful marriage. John Gottmann at the University of Washington has found that couples with a ratio of fewer than five positive interactions for every negative one are destined for divorce.

Also:

Curiously, the magic number also seems to have a close parallel in the ratio of positive behaviors…and negative behaviors…among monkeys and apes.Thus the five-to-one ratio begins to look suspiciously like a basic primate need.

Don’t take that to mean you always have to be positive: Sharing negative feelings about a third party can increase closeness between two people.

We all value warmth over competence in friends but we often forget this:

  1. When assessing someone else, warmth plays a more important role than competence.
  2. When assessing ourselves, we believe that competence (the capability of someone to carry out intentions) is more important.

So stop trying to be useful and just be kind.

What’s the best way to give a friend advice? You need to provide a suggestion without it feeling like you’re telling them what to do:

Say “When I’ve had that problem in the past what I’ve done is…” instead of “You should do this…

And you’re gonna screw up. We all screw up. Know the keys to a good apology.

Turning Enemies Into Friends

Similarity is very powerful. Always always always always always be thinking about things you have in common.

How can you win over someone who already doesn’t like you? Compliment them or ask their advice.

Even fierce enemies can be turned into friends by working together to achieve a common goal. Robert Cialdini’s must-read book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion references this study:

…superordinate goals (goals so large that it requires more than one group to achieve the goal) reduced conflict significantly more effectively than other strategies (e.g., communication, contact).

Trying To Make New Friends?

Here are 4 things to keep in mind:

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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