Friends are one of the biggest happiness boosters of our life. We can’t imagine our life without our coterie of best friends and friendships go a long way in shaping our personalities and enabling us become the kind of person we want to be.
Unlike family, where we are bound by biological relationships, friends are the ones we choose & they choose us and that is what makes this bond so special.
Best friends are the ones with whom you can be yourself without wearing any mask, with whom you can speak anything under the sun, whom you love and trust the most, whose company you enjoy and with whom you are happy and you know it.
As infants, the best part of growing up is the carefree playtime with our friends. We are most happy in the company of our friends and usually friendships are formed over causal play time in the residential complex or with our school classmates. And the friendship that is getting formed here is purely on the basis of whose company we enjoy and how happy we are to be with them.
Do you remember how as a young kid you would have shrieked out in delight on seeing your best friend every evening and couldn’t contain your excitement and your decibel levels? All this and more much to the horror of our parents. But we are the happiest with our best buddies and those friends are the ones we treasure the most.
This is also because during the childhood phase, ties of friendship are built on face-value (literally) and on the basis of having fun & what makes us happy. It’s actually as simple as that. And which is why most often we end up having a large circle of friends when we are in school and also during the initial years of our college life. It is the free-spirited carefree phase of our life and all that we are looking for is a good friend or friends to spend time with, with whom you can roam around freely, hang out with for hours & hours with or without any agenda and to generally chill out in life. We are so open & confident about our friendships that we don’t express very often about how much we value those friendships but it is demonstrated in abundance through our actions and affection towards our friends. And that’s how the unspoken pact of best friends forever gets sealed between us and our besties.
As we start growing up, we tend to develop firm likes & dislikes, opinions & perceptions about people and our definition of having fun. We want to be happy but we also want to have the right type of friends. That is when there is a change in the number of friends we can now make & more importantly, keep. We are very selective about the kind of friends we wish to have, we wish to be seen with and whose company we enjoy the most. All this tends to influence the kind of friendships we now want to maintain and we make no bones about making it clear.
Quality precedes quantity of friends. Our besties from school & college are now all scattered and it takes efforts to maintain the same level of friendship that came naturally earlier. We go out and forge new friendships and put in our earnest efforts in building it and sometimes are lucky to find our circle of friends. Friendships built on the foundation of trust & happiness shall always withstand any storm and in fact bounce back stronger. Anything built on any other ulterior motive is not even friendship in the first place. This is something to remember with old friends & new. It’s important to seek an honest response when you think of whether your friends bring happiness into your life and can your friends vouch for the same with you?
As we get older, we get even more preoccupied with our lives and the umpteen things associated with it – our spouses, children, managing work-home balance, career goals, and aspirations and so on. And with so much to manage on our plate, we tend to neglect the friendships that are most precious to us. In addition to this, at times best friends tend to drift apart not only because they do not have as much time for each other or because they have stopped having fun like earlier. It is also because people grow and so does their perspectives. And it is not necessary that best friends grow together in the same direction. It is ok to have this change occur naturally between best friends. What’s most important is how you choose to deal with this for the rest of your life. It takes a huge volume of energy, trust, love & comfort to develop and maintain strong friendships but it takes just a few instances of disconnect that drifts best friends apart.
What I have learned about friendships is this happens primarily because we stop investing ourselves in our friends & the bond of friendship. It is not about investment that is expected to yield high returns on financial capital. It is about the investment of time, energy and efforts required to keep the relationship alive and happy. For every relationship to nurture, it needs investment and to be nourished with the right nutrients for it to bloom beautifully. Just because you have planted the seed of friendship well, it will not be able to blossom on its own. For it to flourish, it needs constant & consistent time, love & affection of the friends who make this pact but unfortunately aren’t able to work on it. Be clear to your friends when stuff really matters.
Obviously, you would hope most people would know that things like a wedding matters or a close loved one’s funeral matters or a milestone birthday party matters, but other things that maybe aren’t as universally meaningful or important can be overlooked and that’s when feelings are hurt and friendships are strained. So make things easier on your friends by telling them when something is important to you and if they still don’t invest or take the interest, then it’s important to step back and look at where this is heading. The same rule applies to you as a friend. Because life is too short to drag friends around just because you go back a long way and partied together and have thoroughly enjoyed natural sparks of friendships in the past.
The key to long-lasting friendships is to be true to yourself – You must have friends whose company you enjoy and with whom you are happy.
Then go all out and invest yourself wholly in that relationship. Good friends are a huge source of happiness and we need to appreciate that. You know this is good for your happiness and you have to keep working at it, if you are enjoying it. If you are not, then it’s important to re channelize your energy and make space for people & relationships that uplift you and are adding to your emotional bank in a positive manner.
Bronnie Ware, in her international best-selling book ‘The Top 5 regrets of the dying’ has brilliantly captured the essence of life – long friendships. Bronnie spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she compiled this in the book that is now translated in 29 languages. She writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives and how we might learn from their wisdom.
One of the top 5 regrets of the dying is ,”I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.
We should not have this regret.
It’s time to bring home our F.R.I.E.N.D.S !