5 Reasons Why Hiking Can Truly Make You Happy

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Half Moon BayJohn Muir put it perfectly when he said that “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” I haven’t always been a hiker and it’s only recently that I’ve discovered how relaxing and rejuvenating a walk in the wilderness can be.

You might wonder how puffing your way up a mountain, braving the elements, putting up with bugs and getting blisters could make for a happy day, but ask any hiker and they’ll rave about how amazing hiking is for the mind, body and soul. Here are 5 ways that hiking can make you truly happy. 

 

  1. Hiking Reduces Stress

It’s a well-known fact that exercise reduces stress, but in my experience nothing soothes the mind and soul more than simply being outdoors. When you’re a tiny dot standing in the middle of a meadow or are experiencing the vastness of the Grand Canyon, nature helps to put life’s problems into perspective.

 

Scientists have even suggested that we’re evolved to become more relaxed in nature. They’ve found that just looking at video of a natural setting has a significant impact on reducing stress levels.

 

A recent study compared walking for 20 minutes in an urban environment to walking for the same amount of time through a park, and discovered that stepping into a more natural landscape for even a short amount of time can decrease stress and anxiety.

 

  1. Nature Inspires

There’s nothing like being in the woods, discovering a remote beach or scaling a mountain to inspire your creativity! In fact, researchers have shown that switching off technology and immersing yourself in nature can increase your creativity and problem solving skills by as much as 50%. Being outdoors helps create more novel thoughts and walking encourages these thoughts to flow more freely. Next time you’re stuck for ideas, head outside and let nature inspire you.

 

  1. Hiking Keeps Your Body Healthy

Hiking is a great low-intensity exercise that doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints, making it ideal for almost anyone! Long-distance hiking can burn serious calories for weight loss but it’s also great for building leg and core strength, boosting your immune system, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Having good health is a key factor in living a happy life so get out there and take in all that fresh air!

 

  1. Hiking Can Fight Depression

I’m sure every hiker has experienced the mood boost that being surrounded by nature’s beauty gives you, and scientists have gone so far to suggest that hiking is a great way to prevent and even supplement the treatment of depression. It’s not just about the exercise; being surrounded by nature is key and increasing urbanization has even been considered as a possible cause for the rising incidence of mental illness. So it’s true, hiking really does make life brighter.

 

  1. It’s Fun!

My favorite thing about hiking is that every morning when you head out, you never know what you’re going to find! Hidden waterfalls, incredible views, up-close encounters with wildlife, new canyons to explore… every walk has its own unexpected joys and I’ve created incredible memories with the people I’ve shared them with. The beauty of nature is pretty hard to ignore and best of all, it’s free! So what’s stopping you? Plan a hike for this weekend and enjoy your happiness!

 

While you’re out there enjoying nature, help to keep it green for others to enjoy by taking your waste with you, not feeding wildlife, using eco-friendly equipment and leaving the landscape as you found it.

Outdoor Mindfulness Exercises for Earth Day

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All of us are reliant upon the sun for energy, the earth for food, trees for air, and water for drinking. But when we go about our busy lives, it is easy to take the water, air and plants around us for granted. The practice of mindfulness takes us off autopilot, allows us to pause, experience the present moment and give gratitude for all the elements of the natural world that support our daily lives.

 

Stepping out of our classrooms or houses to practice mindfulness allows us to connect, appreciate and develop a relationship with the natural world. My students tell me that after practicing mindfulness outside, they frequently have “mindful moments” where they simply notice and appreciate what is around them. To do this with your students in celebration of Earth Day, here are some exercises that my students have found beneficial.

 

Engaging the 5 Senses

First, take your students outside and ask them to sit down on the ground, on a bench, or whatever works for the space you are in. Invite them to spread out in order to feel like they have their own space, but keep them within earshot.

Part 1

Start by asking your students to close their eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then ask them to put their attention on the sounds around them — seeing if they can focus on the calls and movements of birds or any other natural sounds within earshot. Their attention will naturally dip back into their thoughts — gently remind them to bring their focus back to the sounds every minute or two. When the timing feels right, move on to the next part.

Part 2

Next, ask your students to feel the sun on their skin — their faces, hands, arms or any place exposed to the sun. Ask them to keep their attention on all the parts of their body where they can feel the sun, reminding them that all the life and energy on earth comes from the power of the sun.

Part 3

Ask them to feel the air moving across their skin. After doing this for a minute or two, ask your students to concentrate on a specific part of their body where they can feel the wind — it could be the tip of their nose, their hands or the back of their neck. Ask them to keep their attention in this specific place until you feel ready to move on to the next part.

Part 4

Instruct your students to feel their bodies sitting on the earth. See if they can keep their attention focused on any part of the body that is touching the earth — it could be their feet or the whole lower half of their body (if they are sitting on the ground). Ask the students to really connect with the earth and feel the earth supporting them.

Part 5

Next, ask your students to connect with their breath. See if they can focus on their breath for 1-2 minutes, paying close attention to each inhalation and exhalation. Ask them to keep their focus on each breath while thinking of how the air passing in and out of their lungs comes from the trees.

Part 6

End with a gratitude practice. Ask students to envision their favorite place or thing from the natural world. It could be a park, an animal or a tree — whatever comes to their mind. Once they have something in mind (it will take a moment or two), ask them to send thoughts of gratitude to this place or element of the natural world. Encourage them to fully appreciate this place or creature. Remind them how special it is to have this creature or part of the natural world in their life.

 

After you have done these exercises, ask your students to end by gently opening their eyes. Then have a discussion about what they just experienced together. Discussion topics might include:

  • Which one of the elements did the students connect with the best?
  • What did this feel like?
  • Does anyone feel more like part of the Earth?

Tips for Teaching this Exercise

  1. Use your intuition to figure out how long to spend on each part. The whole exercise can last between 10 and 25 minutes depending on your students. You can also break up the exercise and have a discussion in between the different parts.
  2. You want your tone to be gentle and inviting.
  3. Before teaching this, it is good if you have a time before the school day or before teaching this lesson to go outside and practice the exercise yourself.

Make this mindfulness exercise a special Earth Day treat. And if you have experiences with or ideas about celebrating Earth Day in similar ways, please share them in the comments section below.

 

 

5 Reasons Why it’s Important to Commemorate Special Occasions

 

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“Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.” – Brene Brown

Since the dawn of civilization, man has given high priority towards the commemoration of special occasions. We can see this in the pagan rituals conducted by our tribal ancestors during initiations, the ancient Egyptians’ celebrations during the annual harvests, the elaborate coronation ceremonies during the Middle Ages, and the gruesome acts of human sacrificial offerings that were made by the Mayans.

 

The list of the number of rites, rituals and celebrations that the people on our planet partake in is almost endless and incredibly diverse. Commemoration rituals can be as simple as treating ourselves to a spa day after accomplishing something challenging at work to a full blown 3 day wedding extravaganza to share the happiness of our blessed union with our loved ones.

 

All around the world, special events and celebrations like weddings are even led up to with great gusto. The market for invitations, save the dates, and other types of celebration reminders are prolific and extremely popular. In fact there is a ubiquitous industry for the celebration of practically all mainstream holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve.

 

Every culture, nation and tradition has developed its own unique ways of honoring special occasions. Their customs and traditions are a direct product of their cultural background, history, religious beliefs and even the geography of the region they live in. We see this in religious and cultural festivals around the world like the Carnival in Brazil, Chinese New Year, Oktoberfest in Germany and Diwali in India.

 

As eclectic as these practices are, if we take a closer look, we’ll see that there is a common thread of themes that connects each and every one of them. We will see that all of these occasions center on universal human experiences such as love, sadness, joy, reverence, success and sacrifice.

 

No matter which country you visit, you will notice that we all rejoice in the same things, such as a happy relationships, the birth of a child, professional or personal victories and other milestones. Similarly, we all mourn the same things, such as losing a loved one or facing a major setback or disaster.

 

It seems that as a species we are instinctually driven to honour the significant moments in our lives. There are deep underlying needs that drive us to engage in celebrations. As a result, we have found so many wonderful ways to meet these needs and create more meaning in our lives.

 

There are, however, skeptics out there who perceive these celebrations as being fluffy, ostentatious and prodigal. These practical traditionalists view these occasions with an eye of cynicism, preferring to maintain a stance of reticence and living their life in a moderate and simplistic manner.

 

Of course everyone is free to live their life in a manner of their choosing, but they would be missing out on a lot of life’s “goodies” by excluding themselves from participating in gatherings that pay homage to the important milestones in life. Here are some significant benefits that they would miss out on:

 

  1. Cultivating a sense of community:

    One of the most opportune times to bond with our families and friends is during special occasions. Whether we come together to celebrate happy occasions such as a bridal shower or a more sombre occasions such as a funeral, we get a chance to connect with those we love and care about on a deeper and more profound level.

  2. Instilling a sense of meaning and significance to our lives:

    The unique rituals and practices that highlight important milestones such as weddings, graduations or birthdays all serve an important purpose. Participating in the customary rites (cutting cakes and drinking champagne) connects us to the significance of the role that an occasion plays within the grand scheme of our lives. It instills a sense of reverence and appreciation for the gift of life and connects us to a more omnipotent force.

  3. We will create lasting fond memories:

    The human mind tends to recall memories that carry a high emotional charge to them. When we commemorate a special occasion, we are essentially placing a mental bookmark on an experience, thereby making it easier to remember it in the future. The photos, videos and other forms of memorabilia from those occasions serve as triggers that we can use to re-live those pleasant experiences in the future.

  4. It adds fun and excitement to our lives:

    Celebrations can be incredibly fun and provides us with the perfect opportunity to engage in the joys of life such dance, song, food, play and laughter. Who doesn’t look forward to the fun-filled occasions where we can let our hair down and take a break from our mundane existence? The little kid within us still relishes in the excitement of an upcoming celebration and this is an emotion that we deserve to indulge in as adults as well.

  5. We take our place in the circle of life:

    When we commemorate special occasions, we are essentially connecting with our humanity and the commonality that we share with all those who have been long gone before us. We tap into the timelessness of the human spirit when we take the time to pay respect to the important rites of passages that were celebrated by our ancestors in the yesteryears.

 

 

“The Happiness Equation” for Parenting and Life

My husband stands next to me in the kitchen of our humble south Florida home. Nearby, our 27-month-old son Taber plays with yellow construction trucks. I breathe in the beauty of daily things and begin to clean up after dinner.

 

“Dada look! Crane truck!” Taber shouts.

 

“Yes, look at that crane truck,” my husband responds kindly. Then he sighs. I can tell he’s not fully present. Tired from a day of dealing with administrative complexities, my husband is restless. He wants to do more than go out for our regular before-bedtime bike rides or walks.

 

“We have about 30-minutes before the sun sets,” he states looking at the kitchen clock. “Let’s do something different tonight. Let’s drive to the Everglades.”

 

“We’ll be pushing bedtime back,” I say with hesitation.

 

“I know. I know. But we are so good about honoring Taber’s need for daily rhythms and I need this Amy.” He leans onto the counter. “I need to get into the wild with you all. We won’t stay long. The sunset there will be gorgeous.”

 

I look at my outdoor-loving, world-traveling, adventure-seeking husband of 16 years. Yes, he needs this. “Alright. I’ll just let these soak.” I place the dishes in a sink of warm, soapy water. “Let’s do it,” I say with a smile.

 

A vast expanse of birds, water, greenery, and calm await us. To turn in all directions and see only nature’s splendor, free from the engineering encroachment of human hands, brings deep renewal. As a family, we walk down a trail leading into seemingly endless waterways and grasslands. There are a few small fishing boats out on the water. Egrets fly overhead. I take a deep breath. I also needed this.

 

I look at Taber. His happiness is pristine and wondrous. His whole being pulses with the perfect presence of life. While we spend a great deal of time outdoors as a family, he’s never seen this. The yellow and orange light of the setting sun drench the wetlands around us. Taber shouts and a white ibis takes flight from a nearby tree. The stressful shadow of the day slips off my husband’s shoulders. I feel a rush of aliveness lift my heart. Instinctively, I begin to run. I run up and down the trail skipping, shouting, and smiling from ear to ear.

 

Like a child, I run freely. Taber watches me and takes off too. “Mama! Mama! Mama!” He runs after me with joy. A game of chase commences. We run apart, together, embrace and do the dance again. Laughter echoes off the water. Taber’s eyes shine. I pick him up and lift him high above me. “More! More!” he laughs. The luminous sunset bears witness to this precious, holy moment.

 

Amypic“Lift him up again Amy,” Clark calls out to me from down the trail. He has his iPhone in his hand. I pick Taber up once more.

 

The resulting photo captures an extraordinary mix of light and shadow. It is a beautiful representation of the transformative joy I’ve known in my journey as a mother. Yes, there are struggles, but the overwhelming emotion is one of humbling gratitude. On the drive home, I reflect upon happiness.

H=S+C+V

Happiness equals set point, plus conditions, plus volition. This is the happiness equation taught by professor Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.” According to Haidt, an individual’s genetic set point combine with life conditions and choices made. For over a decade, I drew upon Haidt’s scholarship in my role as a teacher of comparative religion and philosophy. Now as a mother, I take in his insights on an entirely new level.

 

On one hand it’s a simple concept. I inherited a certain genetic makeup from my parents predisposing me to various physical and emotional traits and temperaments. The conditions of my life are multifaceted and complex in their interactions. My education, nationality, economic status, place of residence etc. weave together to create a nexus of ever-changing conditions. Finally, I make choices. I navigate through daily rhythms and choose what I read, eat, and say. I choose what thoughts I want to infuse with attention. My choices impact both the conditions of my life and my expression of the range of behaviors present in my set point. I take up practices such as meditation and journal writing — documented activities proven to contribute positively to one’s well being. Yes, set point, conditions, and volition constitute the ingredients to happiness.

 

However, it’s one thing to teach a course focusing on meaning, ethics, and happiness. It’s quite another to structure a life so as to best apply this wisdom to the work of parenting. Currently, my husband and I determine nearly all of the conditions of Taber’s life. It won’t always be that way. But for now, the choices we make deeply impact the expression of his genetic inheritance and his emerging power of volition. Our daily choices now matter on an entirely different level. I also apply Haidt’s wisdom to myself in a new way. I work to keep the light of joy within myself burning brightly so as to best nurture the light within my son.

 

We arrive home late and peacefully dive into our routine bedtime rituals. Certainly, this spontaneous departurefrom our regular rhythm was worth it. While nursing Taber down to sleep, I soak in the echo of the nature’s power. May we make time for such moments as parents. May we nurture both the best in ourselves, and our children. May we mindfully make choices that create space for the emergence of pristine, wondrous happiness.

 

 

3 Triggers Every Parent Needs to Know

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON HUFFPO, FEB 5, 2015

 

“Help me — I feel alone, trapped and my options are down to zero.” There isn’t a week that goes by without hearing that another teen has attempted or “successfully” committed suicide. In my own neighborhood, there have been at least 14 deaths since 2009. Even one is too much.

Though the situations may appear different, they all share some common issues:

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• Trying to fit in and belong

• The urgency to live authentically

• The idea of being “successful”

 

 

1. Trying to fit in and belong.

“If these children had knives in their hands, my daughter, Dara, would have been dead a long time ago.” The feelings of isolation can start early. In a relevant CBS piece called Words Can Kill Dara, age 13, remembers being targeted in school as young as 6 years old with messages like, “nobody likes you, you’re ugly.” By fourth grade, she faced verbal knock-out punches like, “Oh you’re in class — we hoped you were dead.”

By that time, no matter how much she wanted to fit in, the online bullying had started as well. In Dara’s words, “People start to tell you these things about you, and you think, ‘oh is that what people think about you?’ and then you start to believe it.” The Mean Girls/Boys Syndrome is not just a phase. It is reinforced every year and perpetuated by fearful beliefs, like “If I support the outcast, will I become the next victim?”

Problems escalate when intolerance for differences coexists with a tolerance for hate. Cyberbullying can and does drive kids to death. The intent of circulating cutting remarks or hurtful photos is blatantly to deliver harm. If a student brought a weapon to school, there would be an uproar. Yet, anonymous social media sites not only fan the flames of hate, they actually normalize it; that is one of the most disturbing parts.

Is your child experiencing what feels like a hate crime, and are authorities saying, “That’s just the way it is?”

 

2. The Urgency to Live Authentically.

The pressures to fit into a certain mold are very real, and those who are different in any way (the way they look, dress, sexual orientation, or even their creative pursuits) often find themselves tormented by bullies.

On the last day of the year, Leelah Alcorn felt that she could not find another way. Leelah, a 17 year old transgender who was trying to build an authentic identity, posted a suicide note, before she stepped in front of a tractor trailer near her home. She is not the only one. One survey states that more than 40 percent of all transgenders attempt suicide. Her message serves as a wakeup call for compassion and change. Leelah’s final words were, “There’s no winning. There’s no way out… My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year, my death needs to mean something… fix society.”

Is your child someone who fits in or is she/he an individual who has a unique perspective on life? Can you help them express their innate strengths, and defend their right to do so?

 

3. Defining “Success.”

The need to achieve is often tied in with the need to keep up or make others happy. At Stanford University, there is something called the “Stanford Duck Syndrome.” It suggests that on the surface, students look unruffled, like they are gliding along smoothly, but underneath, the truth is that many are paddling frantically just to stay afloat. Keeping up appearances, while drowning inside from the weight of that stress, is not just an issue in the Ivy’s. A total of 50.7 percent of college students felt overwhelming anxiety within the last year, according to a nationwide American College Health Assessment survey.

It starts from a young age. In many communities there is enormous pressure to not only to do well, but to be the best. Kids are brought up with the expectation that they must go to top schools; it’s part of their “identity” and what their parents are expecting. So, they are loaded with far too many AP classes and extracurricular activities, which may be of no personal interest at all, except to enhance their resume.

The idea of building on your own strengths, finding personal expression or even exploring subject areas that do not have a large enough ROI (resume optimizing impact) is often looked down upon or vetoed. Many kids go through their formative years as “performance generators” feeling like their most unique qualities are not recognized or valued by those closest to them.

Internally, kids often believe that if they let up or cannot keep up, their parents would be devastated. Even more insidious is that these young people can be even harder on themselves, feeling shame for not living up to expectations and hating themselves for not “succeeding.” That’s when the options begin to narrow.

What is your definition of success? At the end of the day, what do you really want for your child?

 

Parents Role

After yet another suicide in my neighborhood, on January 24th, one student writes:

“School is not the entire reason, but it is definitely a large contributor to our deteriorating health. Yes, mental disability can be a part, but just think for a moment on how and why it develops… Good God, the things you put us through. It’s AP classes, it’s SAT prep from day 1, it’s punishment for less than a 4.0 GPA, and it fuels the tears that put us to sleep at night while you rest soundly… Quit coddling each other about your fears and how sad it is to deal with us and actually talk to your kids. Listen to us. I get our future success is extremely important and supposedly vital in a society like ours, but why is our mental health and emotional stability less significant? …I am so, so angry…We cannot wait for change. We need it now.” [sic]

Cause and Effects

Suicides are often blamed on mental instability, and that can certainly be a factor. TheWorld Health Organization predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second largest cause of human suffering. That said, it’s time to question: what are thecultural conditions we’ve created which breed this instability, pressure cooker environment, perceived lack of options, and depression?

 

Basic Human Needs

All of these stories highlight the needs that every human being shares — to be accepted, to belong and to be loved. Band-aid approaches, like adding an extra counselor after the fact, cannot address the source of the problem. It is encouraging that there are other ways.

When my daughter was facing depression, I began a journey to find tools that could help others too. Working with educators, we created the Project Happiness social and emotional curriculum, which works at the root cause level. I have learned that preventative wellness and developing empathy are at least as important as math or history. Programs like this create the awareness, strategies and the emotional resilience so kids can have a history. I know that with a good foundation in these skills, the best is yet to come.

These core needs show up in families too. Both parents and their kids want to be feel respected by one another and also by their peers. But as parents, let’s consider finding our own feelings of accomplishment, not living through those of our kids. With all best intentions, instead of putting them in a mold, let’s help them be inspired by their talents, appreciate their passions, and pave the way for their potential to emerge. Let’s help them see past a fear-driven mindset. It’s not about being the best, it’s abouttrying your best. It’s not about test results, it’s about curiosity and the process of learning.

Consider: what beliefs are you holding about belonging, authenticity and success that are shaping your children’s futures? What are we really asking of our kids?

 

Choosing Love over Fear

Instead of succumbing to the fear of not being enough, let them know that they are loved just as they are. The sheer acceptance and support from a parent is more reassuring and motivating than any accomplishment could ever be. Help them understand that being kind to themselves makes them stronger and serves as an antidote to the hurt. Help them to not believe the voices of doubt and hate, wherever they come from. Help them discover that they are here for a reason, and there are always choices and options, no matter what.

 

 

 

7 Qualities of a Happy Mom

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON HUFFPO

The saying goes that when Mom is happy, everyone’s happy. But in this busy world, where the ultimate luxury may be a full night’s sleep, here are seven qualities that help moms not only keep it together, but thrive. Which ones would you want to share with the favorite mom in your life?

1. Know your strengths: Happy moms recognize that “effortless perfection” is an outdated myth. Being real, authentic and present is way more fulfilling and meaningful, not to mention a much better model for your children. Focus on your strengths, and what makes you energized, not on what is “missing.”

2. De-stress: Time to de-stress is not a luxury — it is fuel for going the distance. Even a few minutes during a hectic day counts. Whether it’s through laughter, exercise, hobbies or meditation, it’s important to have a way to let go of stress. Take time to return to yourself. You and everyone around you will be happier!

3. Be gentle with yourself: Happy moms try to show compassion for themselves and to others. Mothers who, even inadvertently, put themselves down (I’m too fat, too overwhelmed, etc.) demonstrate that belief to their kids. We are all in the process of evolving. When you choose to be kind to yourself, as well as to others, it will inspire everyone around you to do the same.

4. Know when to say no: Happy mothers set healthy boundaries. This can look like prioritizing quality time with family or deciding not to take on another project that would drain all of your energy. Pleasing people, whether it is friends, relatives or colleagues, can lead to spreading yourself too thin — invest your time wisely.

5. Empower your children to help: Kids feel better when they are a contributing part of a team. Happy moms find creative ways to engage their children in helping out, whether that is assisting in putting together tomorrow’s lunch or feeding the pets. “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” ~ Anne Landers.

6. Find time for friends: Friends help you laugh at your troubles, listen when you want to talk, and remind you of who you are. Being a mother is but one of your roles; real friends help you keep your identity and perspective, and remind you to reach for your dreams.

7. Have an attitude of gratitude: Happy moms know that gratitude opens the doors of the heart. Try having everyone around the table talk about one thing they are grateful for in their lives as well as something they appreciate about the others there. “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

 

 

 

10 Things That Real Friends Do

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Some believe that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

This goes for friendships, too. Here are some of the qualities that I am grateful for in my friends. While different people have different qualities, just thinking about them makes me smile. Take a look and see which ones you can match to the people in your lives.

 

1. Focus on the good: You don’t have to impress real friends. That’s a lot of hard work. Real friends see past the surface, and appreciate the good qualities in you.

 

2. Being real: With your real friends, you can laugh or cry, be either silly or serious, and still feel the warmth of true connection.

 

3. Kindness counts: Fair-weather friends are fun when times are good. You recognize real friends who show an underlying kindness, especially when times are tough.

 

4. Mistakes are part of life: Real friends don’t condemn you for making mistakes; we’re all human, and mistakes, too, are part of life. We learn as we grow.

 

5. Balance of power: Real friendships are not about one person being the star and the other being the servant. It’s about being able to take turns: understanding and being understood, giving and getting support, and caring enough to listen for words unspoken.

 

6. F is for forgiveness: When conflicts come up, real friends have the courage to reach out directly rather than gossiping and letting irritations grow. Real friends understand, and because they understand they are capable of forgiving.

 

7. Loyalty, care and connection: In a real friendship, loyalty is key and connection is the currency. You know they have your back. Real friends look beyond the sparkle of personality to the essence of what makes each other tick.

 

8. Let each other grow: Life is dynamic and people change. Real friends give each other the space to grow, the time to recalibrate, and the open door to sharing insights that only come from experience.

 

9. Water the plant2014-08-03-sFRIENDSDNAsmall.jpg: Like plants, friendships need to be watered, too. Real friends check in with one another. Whether that is every day or on birthdays every year, it is always special.

 

10. Celebrate the good stuff: Real friends celebrate your victories. They want the best for you and have the caring and confidence to be genuinely happy for your successes. Your joy is their joy, too.

 

What other qualities are on your list? What is most important for real friendship to blossom?