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Celebrate United Nations' International Day of Friendship With…Friends!

By Beth Clark • July 30, 2018

The History of International Friendship Day

In 2011, the United Nations proclaimed the International Day of Friendship with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, and cultures can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. They wanted the day to involve young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.

Challenges, crises, and dividing forces like poverty, violence, and the abuse of human rights undermine peace, security, development, and social harmony in the world. Promoting and defending a shared spirit of solidarity between human beings can take many forms, the simplest being friendship. It's easier for some than others, but any one of us can make—and be—a friend.

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

Obviously, friendship on a global scale has a direct impact on world peace and matters to the survival of humanity. But making and maintaining international friendships isn't realistic for a lot of people, so International Friendship Day goes beyond that. The core idea is that friendship can inspire people to build bridges between economic classes, neighborhoods, cultures, interest groups, and anywhere else there's division or doubt. By accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust locally, we can all contribute to the fundamental shifts urgently needed to achieve lasting stability in the world, create a safety net for those who need it, and generate the motivation to unite and make it a better place.

So, where does it start? With each of us. With you. And our social circles, both online and IRL. Introvert or extrovert, male or female, young or old, rich or poor, most of us have the ability to expand our tribe in any direction we choose. We also have the power to shift the welcome mat if those we tend to find ourselves surrounded by aren't quite the people we want to be interacting with. If you're not sure, ask yourself: Do they make your life expand or shrink? When they're around, are you happier? Do you feel pressured to do things you don't want to or be someone you aren't? If you need to change something, but don't know what or how, The Friendship Quadrant by Michael & Kassie Boyd with Steele Kizerian and Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry by Albert J. Bernstein are both good starting points.

Helping Kids and Teens Make Friends

While most kids do seem to have an innate ability to make friends, many do not. One primary focus of International Friend Day is helping young people interact with each other in positive ways. Before they can become future leaders and participate in multi-cultural community activities that promote understanding and respect for diversity, they need to learn how to connect. Here are a couple of reader favorites that can help:

  1. How Kids Make Friends: Secrets for Making Lots of Friends, No Matter How Shy You Are by Lonnie Michelle
  2. The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults by Elizabeth Laugeson

Making and Keeping Friends as an Adult

Most kids seem to have an innate ability to organically make friends that adulting somehow gets in the way of or makes us forget. Jobs, bills, families, pets, homes, and other ongoing grownup responsibilities can make it challenging to meet people, let alone develop friendships, especially for stay-at-home parents and remote workers. Thankfully, ThriftBooks has some excellent reads on how to navigate and overcome those challenges, including these titles:

    1. The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore by Marla Paul
    2. How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends by Don Gabor
    3. Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness by Shasta Nelson
    4. Grown-Up Girlfriends: Finding and Keeping Real Friends in the Real World, by Erin Smalley

The Inspiring and Fun Side of Grownup Girl Friendships

The universal humanitarian impact of friendship is certainly important, but in the interest of balance for women in particular, so is finding inspiration and having fun with a capital "F." If it's been a while since you felt excited about something or laughed so hard with your bestie that wine came out of your nose, you're welcome.

  1. The One Year Book of Inspiration for Girlfriends...Juggling Not-So-Perfect, Often-Crazy, But Gloriously Real Lives by Ellen Miller
  2. Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George (Southern Sisters Series Book #1)
  3. Last Night I Dreamt of Cosmopolitans: A Modern Girl's Dream Dictionary by Josie Brown
  4. Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide by Stacy Edgar

Read more by Beth Clark

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Nonfiction | Inspirational
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