Importance Of Friendship

Even as an introvert I have found no problem making friends. I use the word “friends” loosely here. I believe there are three types of friends, each of whom have played an important role in understanding my sense of self.

1.) The convenient friend.

This is the type of friend you have for the season. That is, the friend you meet along the road, as you both travel your life journey. You are together for a “season” or two, until one or both of you goes on to your next adventure. You may feel bereft for a while but then you cross paths with someone new and another friendship begins; it’s a cyclical pattern.

2.) The toxic friend.

This one can radically alter your mood for the worst and for me should be avoided if possible. For whatever reason, their negative mood or vibe is contagious. Do they make you feel bad about yourself, agitated, or maybe even ill? Are they consumed in drama ALL THE TIME? Are you finding they always have problems and somehow every conversation is all about them. If so, you could be in a toxic friendship. Remember the saying you are who you “associate” with, hanging out with this friend will only bring you down.

3.) The enduring friend.

This type of friendship is what Aristotle referred to as “friendships of the good,” which he believed to be highly valuable, and necessary for one to live a happy life.

They are rare and you may only have a handful during your life. But if you are lucky enough, you’ll find at least one. I consider myself very lucky to have found a few.

These friends are the people you count on when something big happens in your life. They are honest, and always have your best interest at heart.

**I want to try to have only enduring friendships, otherwise I feel phony.

Life is too short to have or to be a bad friend. Some friendships will drift away, while others may stay the course. But I’ve come to terms with that, it’s sad sometimes to let go of friendships and accept their end, but again nothing is permanent. Remember each and every relationship, good or bad, teaches you something about yourself.

How To Center Yourself For Greatness

One can center their life on an array of things: family, self, principles, friends, work, money, and a host of others. Many things influence our lives. However, it is crucial to have a solid center, because it affects how we interact, perceive, and interpret people and the world around us; circumstances that influence both our actions and reactions.

Centering your life on a series of core principles allows a stable foundation for personal growth. By principles, I mean the values and beliefs that make up your very core or character (in essence who you are). Unlike other life factors, principles are consistent and don’t depend on the behavior of others or the environment. Your principles should be fundamental truths that are timeless and unchangeable.

For me, holding to my principles is essential because I am a highly sensitive person who is often affected by other people and my surroundings. I’m like a sponge, I will soak-up others’ emotions. In crowds or social situations I tend to get very anxious and overwhelmed. I have found that creating a mission statement or daily affirmation helps me re-focus and re-center my mind in these situations.

One of the greatest assets of the human mind is imagination. Through it you can visualize a situation using your affirmation: that is, you see it, feel it, and experience it before it actually happens. So when you get into an uncomfortable situation it is not foreign, because you have created an internal comfort zone.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey points to the importance of affirmations in becoming the person that you really want to be. An affirmation should be personal, positive, engaging, and emotional. Many athletes and peak performers partake in this activity. You can do it before a game, performance, presentation, or really any event/situation.

According to Covey, it allows you to handle the situation with awareness. Visualizing that experience in advance forces you to think through your priorities carefully, so that you can align your behavior with your beliefs.

Here is an example of one of my affirmations: It is fulfilling (emotional) that I (personal) listen (engaged) with an open heart and think before acting, so that my decisions are made with love and integrity.

 Such an affirmation is leading me down a path not driven by the superficial dramas that surround me but by a script that I have created for myself; a mission based on my own set of values.

Reflection Exercise

As I walk into the chapel, white roses, poppies, and sunflowers fill the room. The smell is entrancing and instantly takes me back to my mother’s garden. The vividly colored stained glass windows are open and the warmth of the sun glistens on everyone’s skin. A full orchestra plays music and you can distinguish the various instruments. The lively beats bounce off the walls, the sound echoes throughout the halls and can be heard outside. It’s breathtaking!

In the midst of what would normally be heartache, there is an overwhelming sense of joy. It is a celebration of life rather than a loss of one. There are tears, but they are only bittersweet. I watch as loved ones greet each other with warm embraces and soft words of condolence.

As I find my seat, a man in his mid-thirties begins to walk up where the casket is front and center. Everyone becomes silent as he speaks. The music softens to a faint melody in the background. He talks of a woman – a woman he describes as a beautiful and complete individual.

He speaks of a time after his addiction when he had lost all faith in people. His faith was rekindled in her. “She possessed noble qualities, that of which embodied her bold character,” he says.

Three more speakers follow after him. They all have unique stories with similar traits. Each describe in loving details her kind and compassionate personality. The woman’s brother ends the ceremony recalling “she saw the good in people, even when they could not see it in themselves. Her love was abundant and unconditional. She did not judge for she believed herself to be no better than any other. She did not hate for she knew it would only consume the heart. Instead she forgave so that her heart remained open and welcoming. Her wisdom came with age. Her knowledge earned from her ever-growing curiosity of the world. She lived a life that was her own. To be in her presence, was to feel her love, and it made you feel more alive.”

I watch everyone as they line up to view the open casket to pay their respects. I know I should do the same, so I quickly get in line. Soon it is my turn. I walk up to the casket and look down to see a beautiful stranger, but what I see couldn’t be real – for the stranger lying there is me.

I invite you to attend your own funeral. How would you like to be remembered? This is a popular reflection exercise. While it may seem morbid, it unconsciously allows you to get in touch with your deepest values, as life takes on a different perspective. You are left to examine the life you’re currently living.

Be Proactive

In Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he explains the two different kinds of people: proactive and reactive people.

Reactive people are those whose environment(physical/social), feelings(emotions), conditions, and circumstances empower their actions.

Proactive people are value-based, and they are aware that their behavior is a product of their own choice. Even though outside conditions can still influence them, they make value-based choices. In essence they accept responsibility for their own life.

For example, many times reactive people render love a feeling, and thus their actions are made in response to that feeling. Proactive people make love a verb, rendering it something you do; it becomes a value that is shown through loving actions.

Mahatma Gandhi is probably one of the most well-known proactive people. Through his nonviolent philosophy he has inspired millions of people worldwide. Gandhi said, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do,” meaning you have to change before you can see anything else begin to change.

To become a proactive person you first have to change from the inside out. Effect positive change by simply being more; I can be bettering my attitude, I can be kinder, wiser…etc.

While I am a product of my environment, I also have an independent will. Even though I am constantly bombarded with people and things that may influence me, ultimately I have the power to CHOOSE. The most valuable endowment we have that separates us from other animals is the fact that we have self-awareness. We can make our own choices.

We can choose to be happy in our current state, while focusing our efforts on what we can change.