The Art of Friendship

friendship

Friendship is one of the treasures in life.  We all need friends.  We need someone we can talk to, share things with, go places with, cry and laugh with. We all need a best friend, a circle of friends, we are all “people who need people” as the song says.  Some of us are blessed with a lot of friends and some with very few.  It is not the quantity that counts, it is the quality.

Good friends are born from common interests, common values, and a commitment to one another.  A history together makes a big difference but it can often dry up, you have that original burst of enthusiasm when you reconnect, and then realize that what you had before is gone.  On the other hand,  you might find that the roots of those old friendships go deeper than you thought.

True friends are committed to your happiness and success as you are to theirs.  They will tell you the truth even if you do not like it and will not ask you to place your friendship before your principles.  Friends should be a good influence, encouraging you to live up to your full potential. Relationships are an important factor in happiness and friends play a major role in personal happiness.  Aristotle said there are three types of friendships:

  • Utility friendships where each person benefits in some way from the other
  • Pleasure friendships, based on personalities, fun, and common interests
  • Virtuous or Goodness friendships based on admiration, shared values, and striving together for the greater good

Not surprisingly, virtue-based friendships last the longest and bring the most happiness to those in the relationship.  If you want to find happiness, find friends that share your values, who support you, and make you feel good. There are some key elements to maintaining friendships that are good to remember:

  1. Don’t take your friends for granted. Be grateful for them and let them know how much you appreciate them.
  2. Don’t judge, don’t criticize unless you can provide positive criticism, and don’t talk about your friends behind their backs.
  3. Revel in your friends’ successes and support them when they are struggling.
  4. Don’t let small disagreements fester. Don’t be petty.  Be compassionate and forgiving.
  5. Be there when your friends need you.
  6. Don’t make it all about you. Friendship is a mutual affair, make sure there is a nice balance of give and take in the relationship.
  7. Be your own best friend, never take advantage of a friendship or let your friends take advantage of you.
  8. Keep in touch regardless of distances that may separate you.
  9. Respect your friends’ confidences and beliefs.
  10. Be your own best friend.

I cannot stress the importance of being your own best friend first – if you love yourself and are your own best friend, you will be a much better friend to others.  If you want to deepen you friendships and develop new ones, focus on your own personality traits and what you can give to the relationship.  Friendships take work and require that you be:

  1. Accepting
  2. Compassionate
  3. Dependable
  4. Empathetic
  5. Good Listener
  6. Honest
  7. Loving
  8. Loyal
  9. Non-Judgemental
  10. Open
  11. Perceptive
  12. Positive
  13. Respectful
  14. Self-Confident
  15. Supportive
  16. Trustworthy

There is no doubt that friendships are a blessing and also no doubt that they do require work.  They need to be nurtured and appreciated.  No man is an island and good friendships are an integral and beautiful part of the fabric of our lives.  Cherish your friendships and be open to new ones.  The more you live in a state of love for yourself and others, the happier you will be.

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