“A friend in need, is a friend, indeed.” I heard this quote a lot as a child but didn’t really understand it. My mother finally explained it to me: A friend who is still your friend when you’re in trouble is a real friend. It’s important to know who your real friends are, because they are the people who will stick with you when times get hard. Do your friends come to your aid, or do they disappear? Success is measured, not by money or possessions, but by the quality of your relationships and connections to other people.
Having good friends means being a good friend first, and then choosing your friends wisely. People who are popular or attractive but take advantage of you are not going to be there when you need help. They will often be a major source of trouble. If you know how to be a good friend, you’ll be able to better spot troublemakers and separate them from your real friends.
The golden rule says to treat others the way you want to be treated. This is good advice for people who want to have better friends. This advice is so good that almost every religion and culture has its own unique version of this saying.
- The Meaning of Friendship
- A Real Friend Offers Encouragement
- International Friendship Day
- What is a True Friend?
The Meaning of Friendship
Human beings are social creatures. We crave social connections with other people. You can have many forms of intimate and non-intimate connections. People you don’t know but still see often, or spend time with but aren’t ‘that close’ to are still part of your circle. It’s the people who we are close with that give us the greatest social benefits.
These close connections come in many forms, and the different types may not always equal more or less intimacy. There are friends, partners, siblings, coworkers, teachers, neighbors, etc. You can have a partner who you don’t confide in as much as you do a best friend, or a sibling who feels more like a friend. Sometimes your boss is as close as family.
The most common kinds of social connections fit into the category of friends. They are people you find in the course of your daily life whose company you enjoy.
If you find yourself feeling lonely, learning how to make friends can be a helpful solution. It’s also useful if you’ve recently moved or are starting a new job.
A Real Friend Offers Encouragement
When we’re born, we depend on our parents for care and social interaction. The more we grow, the more we break away from them and go on to forge other connections, creating our own identity in the process.
For most, the place where they begin to make social connections outside of the home is their school. These connections might not always last, but the lessons we learn from friendship stay with us. Out of dozens or maybe even a few hundred possible connections to make, we will single out one or two in particular that we really get along with. Most often, our friends are the people who help us out the most. We help them in turn, and over time, this mutual aid creates a comforting bond.
These become the core of your friend group, and you add to it or even bounce around from friend group to friend group as you need to. Eventually, as you approach adulthood, your friends become more like family. In a lot of ways, your social circle becomes the family that you choose, as opposed to the family you were born into.
No matter how much guidance your parents give you, some lessons have to be learned yourself. You have to learn the difference between a real friend and a pretend one. Sometimes that’s still hard well into adulthood. Once you’ve figured out what a friend is supposed to be, you work on finding people that have those qualities as well as developing those in yourself. A real friend will help you when you struggle. They will offer moral support when you’re feeling down, and give you good advice, even if you don’t want to hear it. They will try to understand your feelings, spend time with you, and encourage you to do your best. In turn, for the people you care about, you try to listen, help, laugh with, and support them. The most important part of having good friends is being a good friend. It is this attribute that determines the quality of the people who choose to keep you as a friend in return.
International Friendship Day
Having a happy and healthy social life is a big part of being happy and well-adjusted. Finding and maintaining good connections is an opportunity to expand your horizons. It’s a way to get other perspectives from people you may trust and like, but disagree with.
The need to have intimate connections is a human appetite you can’t ignore. Healthy friendships help you avoid loneliness, depression, isolation, and dissatisfaction. It is similar to how ignoring a need for sleep or food can manifest itself in unpleasant or even dangerous ways. But like those other appetites, the way you satisfy them is as important as making sure they get satisfied. You should satisfy your need for sleep by picking a place to sleep that is safe and comfortable, stopping when you’ve had enough. You should satisfy your need for food by picking foods that are nutritious, responsible, and satisfying. You make healthy and enriching social connections with those around you, and use them to help and be helped. I like to use the Wellness Wheel to help me keep these aspects of my life properly balanced.
What is a True Friend?
Good friends are worth their weight in gold. But to find a prince, sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs. In the never-ending quest to find and be a good friend, you’ll find plenty of “frogs”—friends who really just want something from you, and aren’t interested in giving anything themselves. These people will hold you back from realizing your full potential. They take from you without giving back, and only desire to be around you when you have something they want.
You can easily find out which of your friends are like this. Just ask them for help with something simple. If they make excuses and avoid you, they may not be a real friend. You may also encounter friends who will betray your trust. These are harder to spot, and it can be painful to find out the hard way. Pay attention to how your friends treat other people during disputes, and you’ll discover how they will treat you in the future too.
Take the time to consciously cultivate friendships with healthy people. When you learn how to choose the right friends, your life will go smoother. The better your relationships are, the better your life will be. You’ll also build deeper and more satisfying connections.
I recommend you take a closer look at your friends. International Friendship Day is the perfect opportunity to let them know what it is about them that you admire. Use this time to find ways to show your appreciation too. You may be surprised by their responses.