Friendship: A Mysterious Joy

 

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image by sandeepachetan

 

What is friendship?

Friends are a family we choose is a well-known cliché. It is however not strictly true. Most of us don’t set out to become friends with someone particular. In my experience, all the valuable friendships I have, were not the ones I set out to cultivate. They just happened. It’s not even that they are with the same type of people, from the same type of background and interest. My friends are spread across continents, across languages, and across age-groups. They are the culmination of all my experiences, yet they are not the definition of it, but an enhancement.

Because to put it simply – friends make the world a better place. When you go somewhere new, whether a new school or a job or a country, life becomes so much more enjoyable when you make friends to share it with. Seneca said:

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. 

Don’t we all crave to be understood? I am sure there has been at least once in your life when you have felt lonely in the midst of people, because you felt that no one understands what you are going through. And yet, isn’t that exactly the reverse when you are with your true friends? Friends know us. They know who we are, and love us regardless. They don’t try to change us, or mould us into an image of what we should be – and yet they do push us – they push to be our maximum potential. True friends give both solace and a slap (hopefully metaphorical) as required. 

Every friendship is different. It brings its own value to our life. Each friendship also has its duration. Some may last a lifetime, and others may only be for a brief period in your life, but that doesn’t lessen their value. 

My very first best friend was a girl I went to school with. We lived in the same area, and went to school in the same rickshaw. That was the basis of our friendship. We were inseparable then, and yet there came a time when we just naturally drifted apart. There was no fight. Nothing significant happened. Our circles changed, and we went off in different directions. I have a sigh of regret at times wishing what if we had never grown apart. Yet, I know that our friendship lasted for as long as it was meant to. Because then, there came new friends, new experiences, new mysteries. 

I still have other friends from my young days. Particularly best friends from teenage years. We have been friends now for about 17-18 years. Considering we are all in different countries, and meet infrequently, it is a significant achievement. Whenever I see them, it’s as if we have never been apart. We know one another, and have known one another from teenage years to adulthood, from school to colleges to marriages. Through breakups and falling in love. Through motherhood and divorce. We know each other right at the core, even if we are not often apprised of minute details of one another’s lives. 

There are others. Friends who serve different purpose – and yet they did not become a friend for a purpose.They simply became friends because in my life there was a need for them, a void that only they could fill at the time, and perhaps in their life a void that I could fill. 

It is not easy to describe any relationship, nor what it means. All I know is that friendship is a mysterious joy. Friends are a treasure, and like all treasures they deserve time and attention. Friendships don’t survive unless both sides make an effort, even if it’s something as small as a letter or a phone call. People often forget to give importance to their friends, when they are busy with their life – with work, spouse and children – and only realise what they have lost, once they have lost it. 

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

–          C. S. Lewis

 

So today’s post is for friendship and friends. Reach out to friends who mean something to you. Remind them that you care. 

What do you think? How valuable is friendship in your life? 

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Live a Life That Makes a Difference

 

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image by eflon

 

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

To make a difference in this world, in other people’s lives does not always require grand heroic gestures. It is possible to make a difference, to positively contribute to this world by simple acts of thoughtfulness and of kindness.  

Donate

Donate time. Donate money. Donate skill. Donate whatever you are capable of donating, and feel comfortable doing so. Go volunteer; whether far away, or in a local place that needs help. When you give something to those who need it, you receive unexpected rewards in return, not the least of which is the joy and the knowledge of having contributed to doing something good.

Lose the negativity

Most of us do this, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We are negative when speaking about others; we are negative when talking about something that went wrong for us; we are negative about the misfortunes and about the opportunities missed; we are even negative about the weather. The more time you spend being negative, the more life you are wasting. Life is made of moments, and each moment wasted is a moment gone forever. So lose the negativity. Instead, focus on being positive, on thinking positive, and on acting positive.

Accept that No One is Perfect (Including You)

The only people who don’t grow are the ones who don’t want to. You can’t change anyone else, even if you only want to do it for their own good. The only person you have the power to change is you. But you can’t begin a conscious process of positive change within yourself if you don’t even see the need for it. Sure, there may be an accidental growth through circumstances. But unless you accept, at least to yourself, that you do have faults or aspects of personality that need improvement, you can’t and won’t do anything about it. Accept that no one is perfect. No matter how good you are, how successful you are, or how many people love you, you are and will always remain a work-in-progress.

Compliment people

You have the power to brighten someone’s day with a few simple words. You have the power to boost someone’s confidence, and make them feel good about themselves. Make a habit of complimenting people. But do it with sincerity, and honestly. I’m not asking you to be a kiss-ass. Pay attention, and you will find reasons for honest compliments. Did your spouse/mother/housemate make a tasty meal? Does your co-worker look great with her new hair? Is your friend’s punctuality a blessing? Do you know someone who has excellent handwriting? Someone whose taste in books gave you good reading material? Did someone’s household tips solve your household problem? Does someone’s cheerful disposition make you smile? There are numerous opportunities for giving genuine compliments to people around you.

Encourage people where you see potential

Being a mentor doesn’t require an official position, or a long-term commitment. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, including those only influence us with a sentence or two. Encourage people where you see potential. Don’t attempt to boss anyone around, or try to change people’s views to fit your vision. Offer simple, honest encouragement. If you see someone who is great with kids, say so. If you see someone who is great at public speaking, say so. Point out people’s strengths to them, so that they may realise it, and perhaps use them to fulfil their own dreams, or even to form their dreams.