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.

Let Go Of The Past

You can only lose what you cling to. – Buddha

Most of us have feelings of regret at some point in our lives. Things we wish we had said or done differently (or not at all). However, it can be toxic to cling too tightly to the past. For me it’s like a venomous snakebite. The longer you wait to treat the wound the more conditions worsen as the venom spreads throughout your body.

Regrets can give you a sense of loss, sadness, or even anger. But suppressing those feelings or denying them will only prolong the pain. It can virtually take over your life and essentially become who you are. We must keep in mind that this continued suffering is of our own choosing. While no one wants to feel the pain of regret, letting it fester only makes things worse and serves to keep happiness at bay.

Emotions are temporary; they change like everything else in this world. We don’t need to attach ourselves to negative emotions. The only thing for certain is that nothing is for certain.

Yes, all actions have consequences, but those consequences may not always be in your control. I once held onto a relationship just because I needed closure from him so I could move on. But we can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. I eventually ended the relationship and created my own closure so I could “shed” the past. Not only did I feel better, but also I was free.

Instead of holding onto the loss of someone or a relationship, grieve. Regrets come from the mistakes we make, and everyone makes mistakes. We should learn from our mistakes and move on. So reflect, learn, and grow. Don’t let your past define you, but let it help shape who you want to be.

Avoid Getting Entangled In Dead-End Relationships

First and foremost, in attempting a relationship you need to make sure you are both EMOTIONALLY available; that is, you both are available and willing participants. An effective relationship should be mutual and reciprocal. If you overlook, or try to rationalize the “unavailability” of your partner in order to avoid short-term disappointment you run the risk of long-term misery.

Over the years, I created a skewed perspective of what a relationship was suppose to be, which seemingly led me to men who were emotionally unavailable. The men I chose were often evasive, involved with multiple women, or avoided expressing any emotions or feelings for me. Yet I craved their love and attention. Why?

Now that I think back on it, my obsession with these men simply masked my own unavailability and vulnerability. I was too afraid to risk falling in love because I had been hurt in previous relationships. After being hurt, again and again, I began to think the problem wasn’t the relationship, or the guy, but me. This low-self esteem and insecurities dictated who I interacted with. I chose the love I thought I deserved; that is, if we think we are shit, then we deserve shit.

Discovering this about myself made me realize my own worth. I now work on my own emotions, rather than trying to find it in men. One of the most empowering feelings is to accept and love yourself. Once you understand yourself, and what you want, you learn you don’t have to settle for anything less than that.

Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be true to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.  -Steve Maraboli

Be Present

For many of us, our lives are filled with routine, responsibilities, and obligations. Often, time is wasted worrying about future endeavors: How can I make more money? When will I find the right man/woman? So much so, we forget to acknowledge the present. When that happens, we often overlook what is really important to us. If you don’t leave time for reflection, relationships, and ultimately freedom to enjoy what you really value in life, unhappiness is bound to creep in and perhaps overtake you.

We tend to forget that life is fleeting and every minute we squander is time we will never get back.

I am not saying you can eliminate all of your daily routines and tasks. Even if given a million dollars, you would still have responsibilities and obligations that you don’t want. That’s part of life – nothing is perfect or guaranteed. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t use those responsibilities as an excuse not to pursue what really matters to you. We need to make time for things that really move us. As the song says, “take your passion and make it happen.”

For me, in the past, I wasted so much time worrying about what others thought of me, that much of my happiness was based on the actions of others or the lack thereof. This just goes to show how time can be wasted on worrying about insignificant things in your life, things that really have no affect on the bigger picture. However, when you let go of that way of living you eliminate much of the unnecessary worries and re-center your focus on more important things, essentially improving your life.

Philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Take The Spotlight Off Gossip

Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people. —Socrates

I have to remind myself constantly that gossip is inevitable. What I mean by that is there will always be people who talk about others. I’ve seen families, friends, and coworkers belittled and the divisive aftermath.

For me it started in school – 3rd grade from what I can recall. That was the age when we began to compare ourselves to others. I was talked about, even bullied for a time when particular aspects of my appearance weren’t viewed as acceptable in terms of society’s idea of physical beauty. For that reason, I didn’t enjoy school. It gave me an overwhelming sense of anxiety and self-doubt, that at times made it difficult to endure “normal” day-to-day social interactions. Yet, since I learned school was not something I could avoid permanently, I taught myself how fit in, how to be accepted, and ultimately  how to be liked.

By high school, I was able to go to school without misery. Instead of being considered an outcast or the subject of gossip, I became part of the gossip factory. I came to believe that participating in gossip made me normal. But in retrospect, I see that all I was doing was devaluing others who were different. Gossip is an indirect way to feel better about yourself, while putting others down.

I gossiped, partly as a defense mechanism, hoping I would then not be talked about negatively. I didn’t want to risk losing my recent acceptance into the “in crowd”. I thought it would be satisfying to be liked but all it made me was a phony or poser, who was in no way genuine. I associated with people who were deceiving and manipulative; none of whom I talk to today.

Over the years, I’ve labeled myself a victim; someone that had been mistreated. Believing this somehow made it seem that what I had done was ok…no big deal, everyone does it.

It’s said that sometimes after a traumatic accident people take stock of their life and often develop a different outlook. Well that’s how I would explain my experience. Shortly after my 22nd birthday life began to change for me. It was as if I was seeing myself from an alternative perspective, one that made me feel like an actor in a play. I had let the dramas in my life run the show. It’s time for me to stop feeling like a victim.

The energy that is invested in gossip can be used to focus on self-development instead. Now in time, I can maintain a good and humble spirit.

3 Truths About Love That Will Never Change

In our 20s most of us are hypocrites (and even assholes) at some point when it comes to love and relationships. We will tell anyone what not to do, and then turn around and do just that. Why? Because we are young, inexperienced, selfish, and love is unpredictable. Moreover, people are flawed and sometimes make mistakes especially with matters of the heart. At this time most of us don’t even know ourselves let alone what we really want and need from others.

However, even with that being said there are 3 truths about love I have learned that will never change:

1.You must love yourself before you can truly love another.

As cliché as it may sound it’s the truth. It goes  along the same lines as, how can you expect others to respect you, if you don’t respect yourself? I mean, if you want to get technical, you can still love another even if you hate yourself, but that love is shallow and not pure; and when there is no depth to love, it will eventually shrink away. It is an unhealthy kind of love.

2.To get love, you have to give love.

Let’s take a metaphorical approach for this one. The Dead Sea, it takes everything the Jordan River gives yet in turns gives nothing. So it is said for that reason to be “dead.” If that is so, then if, you are only receiving, and not giving love, then you are also dead (in terms of love). The whole point of a real relationship is for there to be mutual and reciprocal love and that can only work when two people are equally benefitting from the relationship.

3.Love is the reason we are all here.

Every value, principle, and belief has at it’s root love.

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.