This quote from the last scene of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” illustrates friendship is a precious commodity as well as a vital part of healthy living. People who have a vibrant social network are healthier and happier and live longer.

Some people are natural social butterflies. They walk in a room and people immediately are attracted to them. Friendship often comes easily to such people. Shy or reserved individuals, however, may not be so inclined. Meeting new people and welcoming them into your life may be a challenge. Here are a few tips to help build new friendships.

Be Open to Broadening Your Horizons

It has often been said Seniors have a tendency to avoid changes. Moving in a new direction is both perplexing and fun. There is a world of adventure waiting if you take the first step. Make a list of items you have thought about doing but have yet to pursue.

Taking advantage of classes or activities offered in your community is a great way to meet other people.. Age is no barrier to friendships. Reach out to people of all generations. When you have friends of all ages you’ll always have someone to enjoy.

Volunteer Your Time

If you are a Senior and find extra time on your hands look into opportunities to volunteer. Your former company may even have a volunteer group for retirees. If your company has such a group and you have not connected with them yet, make plans to visit the next meeting.

One of the advantages of volunteering is having a variety of choices. Friendship is often found through one of the many Senior organizations. Local schools provide volunteers a chance to meet other adults with a heart for children.

Educational systems, libraries, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are constantly in need of adults willing to volunteer time to children. Many people have met life-long friends while working with such organizations. The rewards are manifold for both adults and children.

Get Involved Spiritually

In addition to contributing to spiritual development, an active faith community will provide a variety of occasions for making new friends. It may be through study, a prayer group, community missionary work or hosting the coffee table before and after services. If you enjoy singing consider auditioning for the choir. You may also be interested in becoming part of the teaching staff. There are many ways to serve and at the same time make friends.

Find a Club

There are clubs for just about every interest. Your community paper may publish a list of clubs and meeting times. Organizations are open to visitors and potential new members. Look for the friendly face in the crowd and strike up a conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Become an Entrepreneur

Do you have a skill or hobby you could turn into a small business venture? Many art and craft fairs have Seniors who spend their time creating items for others to enjoy. Some travel from place to place during warmer weather selling their wares and enjoying the friends they meet along the way.

Assess your skills and abilities to find out what you have to offer. Make the connections needed to announce you are available. Keep it simple. This venture is not about the money as much as it is about meeting others.

Be Encouraged

Going out and meeting new people is difficult for the person who has lived a quiet and predictable life. If your situation has changed and you find yourself longing for some companionship but are hesitant to strike out on your own, you may need some encouragement to help you on your journey. Find a buddy or relative to go with you to help you break the ice when trying something new. Once you make an initial connection self-confidence increases.

Make new friends and remember…keep the old ones too!