The Key to Happiness
What makes a fabulous friend?
Friends are the key to happiness, according to Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are.
Friends are a vital part of determining who we are and the direction our lives will take. Even past friendships have influenced the person we are today.
Friends help us to know ourselves better, define our priorities, are a tremendous source of support, and also joy.
What an enormous responsibility!
The only way to have a friend is to be one
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
So what makes a good friend?
According to research, physical proximity is not much of a factor when it comes to friendship and this is backed up by the many wonderful friendships being formed online.
Behavioural scientist Joseph B. Walther, a professor of communication studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has studied online relationships for decades.
One of his original theories is that online relationships can develop into the hyperpersonal (excessively personal) as we are unencumbered by the distraction of facial expressions and body language and have time to think about our responses.
Our selective self-presentation gives us greater control and therefore more freedom to confide. These relationships can be crucial in overcoming major traumas in our lives however, the same friendship rules apply to these relationships as to our offline friends.
The things that draw us to people in the first place – common interests and experiences, shared values and equality – are just a start.
Are you friends with everyone at the gym, because you share a love of fitness? How about workmates, because you do a similar job?
What makes some of these relationships morph from acquaintance to friendship is more involved.
Often it will start with self-disclosure and this is a vital ingredient of any firm friendship.
The trick is it HAS to be reciprocal. If I confided to a fellow gym member that I regretted my indulgence during Christmas and received just a smile, or worse – no reaction, I would take it as a clear signal that this person was not interested and therefore, a friendship would be impossible.
If however, that person said something like, “you too? Now we’ll have to work extra hard”, the door is open for more self-disclosure which could turn into a fabulous friendship.
However, friendship ingredients don’t stop there. Unconditional support, acceptance, trust, loyalty and honesty are also key factors in any friendship.
None of us wants to offer that self-disclosure only to have to spread around the neighbourhood.
Fabulous friends uplift each other and inspire you to be the best you can.
A true friend will never ask you to compromise your principals.
Several years ago a good friend asked me to lie for her to the police regarding a small car incident while she was parking. I was truly insulted and thought if she had really valued my friendship she would never have asked me to put myself at risk by asking me to be an accessory.
I confronted her with this thought and she said it was BECAUSE we were such good friends that she felt she could ask me.
Lost respect and confidence in the friendship meant it soon withered away.
PRUNING THE FRIENDSHIP TREE
There are times it’s necessary to let friends go. It is not unusual to have just a handful of friends as you age, having let go of many as demands on time grow and your interests change. It is best to let them wither away naturally instead of a severe cut which could result in anger and hurt feelings.
THE FRIENDSHIP BANK
It’s equally important to nourish the friendships you cherish. Just like plants in a garden, they need time and care. It’s so easy to put friendships on the back burner as we deal the demands of family and work, but a neglected friendship doesn’t survive and there will come a time we’ll be less busy and need our friends even more.
Ensuring you make the time for your friends is a vital investment in your future.
Depositing in the friendship bank doesn’t cost much. Regular communication – texts, email, quick calls – these forms of engagement will ensure your friendship continues to flourish.
TYPES OF FRIENDS
Fair Weather Friend
This friend will only hang around when they can bask in the glow of your happiness and disappear as soon as they see clouds gathering.
Foul Weather Friend
Just as hurtful as they will not celebrate your successes, they are only interested in being your rescuer when times are tough. These friends are dangerous as they can encourage you to stay locked into a bad state where they are most comfortable in their role as helper.
These people only contact you when they need something and are always too busy to speak to you otherwise. These friends can be toxic if you take their actions personally. If took me a long time to recover from the actions of a past friend who did this. I had been frequently calling and supporting her through a tough time. My help was eagerly accepted but eventually, I decided to stand back a bit and see if she would contact me for a change. She eventually did, after months, and I was so excited to hear from her. I started a catch-up conversation which she cut off, letting me know she was just ringing to get the number of a builder. She claimed she’d ring me when she had more time. That was years ago.
This friend will make a big deal of ringing if they hear on the grapevine that you are going through a difficult period. They are quick to offer advice and support but their endless questions make it clear the contact is more about satisfying their curiosity than genuine concern.
This friend finds a million little ways of putting you down, usually under the guise of being helpful. They are very dangerous to your self-esteem.
This friend will become jealous of your other friends and resentful of activities you do that don’t include them.
Know It All Friend
This one has an answer for everything and their way is the only right way. They make it difficult to think for yourself.
This one will tell you whatever it is you want to hear. Don’t go shopping with her as she’ll exclaim that size 6 bikini looks just perfect on your size 20 figure. One of my closest friends is like my own personal safety net. She is the first to fix tags hanging out of the back of my shirt or tell me about a chin whisker that’s too visible (but only when I’m near a mirror and tweezers so I can fix it). She will dry my tears when things go wrong then tell me when I need to build a bridge and get over it. It is one of the things I love about her most.
This friend will stab you in the back at the first opportunity.
Psychic Vampire Friend
This one steals all your energy and leaves you strained and drained.
The best thing in the world – the key to happiness. This friend shares your success, your fails, lends their shoulder, dries tears, create tears (of laughter), inspires, admires, has a genuine wish for your joy and inspires you to be wonderful. This friend will find time for you, know when to hug you and to give you space or advice. Equally important, this friend will share their success and fails, ask for hugs and advice and make you feel needed and necessary.
Be the friend to want to have.
Thank you to the fabulous friends in my life – both online and off.
What kind of friend are you?
Wishing you fabulous friendships and a gleeful week, Tamuria