Lessons on Friendology

It was Antony Robbins who said the quality of our life is the quality of our relationships. Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born yet until they arrive on a sweet day, and that is the dawning of a new world full of new experiences, to laugh and cherish to hold hand in our despair. There are people who just cannot make a friendship tick despite having read “How to win friends and influence people” ten times. This is because of the Berlin walls they build all around them and the fetters and suspicion created day in day out. They never walk the one step towards another person and keep the hands in tact within their pant pockets.

Fundamental human need

Man is a social animal who cannot exist normally as a loner. He has to be among his kind in order to enable to bring out the best of the talents and faculties within him. In a typical lonely island he can become lunatic. So it is a basic need to be in company, in comradeship; he needs someone to share his/her anxieties, cheer, joy, exuberance, food, sorrow and anger. There is an old Swedish saying -Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

Antony Robbins reminds us about some challenges too. He says “Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.”

It is Story Time

We now read a story on real friendship. Shyam and Deepak were close friends. They were walking along the beach. There was some argument over something and Shyam was angry and he hit Deepak on his stomach .Deepak‘s eyes welled up but he did not utter a word. He didn’t hit back either. Instead he squatted down to write something on the sand ‘today my friend hit me badly and I am sad’.

Days went by and their friendship continued in a beautiful manner. One day they both decided to go for swimming in the sea. Somehow Deepak was caught in a wave and was drowning. Shyam who was stronger and a better swimmer rescued Deepak.

After Deepak got rescued, they walked over to a nearby rock and sat down .There Deepak started engraving something on the rock and it took pretty time. Finally the words came clear before the eyes of his friend Shyam. Deepak had written ‘Today my life was saved by my best friend’. A bit surprised Shyam asked Deepak a question. In the last week when I hit you on your belly you just wrote on the sand and now why you write on a rock?

Upon this, Deepak replied that its better we write on sand when your friend hurts as it will be wiped out by rain. When your friend does something great and wonderful it should be engraved permanently and it should last forever.

As good friends we should always see the brighter side of friends and the small hurts should be allowed to be washed away in the rainfall of humanity. The good deeds should never be forgotten.

Friendship improves well being

Friends not merely add to our joy in life, but also improve our well being and overall health. A Harvard study brought out certain important aspects of friendship. The study established that the people who are or were socially isolated appeared dissolute and less happy. Their overall health deteriorated much earlier in the life span, their brain functioning declined. It was proved beyond doubt that loneliness was affecting their longevity.

In North Carolina meta-analysis of friendship research done among certain victims of calamities found a 50% increased likelihood of survival, for participants with stronger social relationships.

Why do we stick to few people?

Friendships are relationships are basic to human nature. Friendships are made everywhere we go all lifelong. Friendship affects a person’s emotional life and influence his interactions, philosophy and well being .We depend on friends for many of our psychological needs .Friendships are essentially a voluntary phenomenon and cannot be imposed.

What is Friendology?

Friendolgy is defined by psychologists as the study of friends and the power of friendship behavior. Friendship is the bond shared between two or more people. It is the understanding of friendship and how it is used in today’s society. It is the science and psychology of friendship.

We all may have varied approach to the whole idea of having a friendship but here are certain commonalities as observed by researchers.

Litmus test for a true friendship is whether the relation brings in any kind of joy in our lives. Friendships are considered to exist only if you enjoy that company and a certain pleasure is derived in that.

Friendship is a two way bridge and it implies reciprocity throughout life and give-and-take as would the occasions warrant. We hold the hands in the times of need and mutual support is the insurance we get out of such a relationship. Anything outside the purview of this is only business relation.

When crisis and calamities strike, we feel more secure if true friends are around. But there is a condition you should be equally caring if you expect any friend to be caring.

Models of friendship show that there are distinct factors that go into the choice of friends. Similarity in culture, beliefs, temperament, aptitudes, educational background etc may become contributing commonalities that attract. Even people with conflicting thoughts and ideologies can also become friends, like Bernard Shaw and GK Chesterton.

Jovial and interesting talk

A friend with a positive approach to things, who is jovial and can make an interesting talk even when you may not be in agreement with all his ideas, may make a good recipe for friendship. Good friends are those who make us feel good in many ways. Their thoughts should stick to your memory.

Never look for a perfect companion

Friendship is not about finding a perfect person who would act all the time to your liking. Since we are all human beings there could be many flaws in the character and behavior of your friend .Similarly your friend also would find many lacunas in you. Good friends encourage each other and help to correct their flaws in character.

Leo Buscaglia gives us a very valuable advice on this:”Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyse your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.”A friend is someone who knows you inside out and all that is in your heart and yet never desert or forsake you.

Perhaps the most significant observation about a true friend is that of Sir Henry Noumen: “When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Glory of friendship

Even as a child we start to look around and look for one of our own age and start smiling and brings up the hands in the air, and that actually is human. We all have that internal craving to mingle, hobnob and joke with friends. We wish to open up our hearts to a friend sitting on a culvert or a park bench. We sometimes open up even our untold secrets to friends and seek advice and console. Friends can also be our menders like in the story of “My Fair Lady”, where the phonetics professor Higgins is vowed to transform a slang speaking working-class girl with clumsy accent into someone who can pass for a cultured member of high society, through his speech lessons. Ralph Waldo Emerson explains in such a wonderful language the magic spell of friendship “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

What a misery filled world this would have been minus the friends we have. Never desert a friend even if you have to move to far off places Friends are like the candle lights that show us through our life and only death should leave us apart.


 

About the Author

Jose Vazhuthanapilly, BSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help / psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at josevazhuthanapilly@gmail.com

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