1. While in group settings, pay attention to the person who may seem or feel like the odd one out. At the core of our essence is the desire to connect with others and feel like we belong; welcoming someone while you’re already safely on the inside will always remind you how simple but surprisingly significant it can be to feel and make others feel accepted.
2. Surround yourself with friends who never make you feel like you need to change to be accepted, but who also inspire you to want to become a better person every single day.
3. Hug a good friend when you’re feeling out of sorts. We often forget how essential human contact is to our wellbeing, and how a simple interaction with someone we care about can temporarily subside what is actually known as skin hunger.
4. Make a spontaneous decision to FaceTime someone you care about. Don’t apologize or feel like you need to send them a text first to warn them and/or see if they’re free. Just call them because you miss them, and don’t feel weird about it.
5. If you haven’t already, start saving the cards, notes, and meaningful trinkets you receive from people who are important to you. They may seem small and sweet yet insignificant now, but years (or even months) down the line, they will become some of your most treasured possessions.
6. Before you start your work week, make a list of five people you are grateful to know in your life. Then make it a goal to reach out to each of them by the end of the week in one way or another. It can be as simple as sending a “Miss you!” text to a friend on the opposite coast, or picking up a donut for the cubicle mate who makes your work days just a little bit brighter.
7. Find a friend who will play hookie with you on a random workday. Go see a matinee, go shopping, take a leisurely lunch – do whatever it is that the two of you love to do together, and don’t feel guilty about it.
8. Make eye contact with people working as cashiers in checkout lines. When they ask how you’re doing, actually mean it when you respond, “I’m good, how are you?” Notice, even if they don’t, how good it feels to attempt to honestly connect with someone instead of just going through the motions.
9. Don’t ever forget to love yourself. You must know and understand your own heart before you can open it up to someone else. So read and learn and explore as much as you can. Do things that thrill you and excite you and make you happy. Find the balance between going easy on yourself and challenging yourself. Remember that you are always a work in progress.
10. Sit down with no distractions and hand-write a card to someone important to you. It can be for a birthday, or an anniversary, or for no reason at all. Just give yourself a moment to sit in the quiet, to miss this person, and to think about how much different your life would be without them.
11. Smile at people when you get on the elevator or when you sit down next to them in a waiting room. Pay attention to how hard it can actually be – because we’re all so used to looking down at our phones all the time – and see if it brightens your mood by even just a fraction.
12. We all need time to ourselves to relax our minds and process our lives. But make sure you are accepting invitations to go out with friends and spend time with people more often than you are rejecting them. Sometimes, even when we don’t feel like it, being around others and soaking in their energy is exactly what we need when we’re feeling lost or alone.
13. Pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you. Most of the time, we actually feel better doing nice things for others than we feel when others do nice things for us.
14. Have a sit-down meal with your friends, keep your phone on silent the whole time, and pay attention to the lightness you feel each time you all share a big laugh or a funny story. These lovely moments are always there, we just tend to miss them when our brains are being distracted by ever-changing newsfeeds.
15. Think of a book you’ve read that changed your perspective and/or your life, and order a copy to be sent to someone special to you.
16. Always keep photos of happy memories nearby – the background on your phone, in a frame on your desk at work, hung up on a bulletin board in your room – whichever places your eyes are focused the most, that will remind you of how many wonderful people you have in your life.
17. Remember that there is no specific quantity you must attain when it comes to having many wonderful people in your life. Wonderful people are hard to come by, so having even one loyal and loving person in your world that you care about is a richer gift than you could ever imagine.
18. Never forget that only 50% of ‘feeling loved’ is about a family member or friend loving you. The other 50% must come from you, opening your eyes and your heart enough to feel, appreciate, and reciprocate it.