One of my most cherished things in life is true friendships. I thrive on them and they thrive on me.
I recently recalled a conversation I had years ago with someone who boasted having 1,200 friends, which I later discovered were all “friends” on facebook and she only knew .01 percent of them! Social media might have fed the maya (i.e., illusion) that likes and follows on social media constitute real friends. I don't think they do, although there might be a few folks who end up on your vortex of being deemed, real friends.
I am not denying that email, text messaging, and social media can be enjoyable and beneficial and that they can lead to wonderful connections (many folks from the America Meditating Radio Show which I host came from twitter - can you believe that?!). However, although social media may offer some aspect of relating, online friendships simply cannot replace real, live, in-person contact. There’s just something special and irreplaceable about being physically present with another human being. And, please don't tell me that artificial intelligence is working to fix that!!!
Research has shown that close friends can give us confidence and boost our sense of self, especially during tough times. They can also increase our clarity to make decisions that matter and they can influence the way we behave in our interactions with one another.
Can you believe that some studies have shown that if you have a friend who has become obese, you are most likely to begin gaining excess weight, and if you have a friend who drinks too much, you are most likely to begin drinking in excess. So, the other side of the coin would prove that if you raise your game, then your friends would too. If you rise in your consciousness, so would your friends and vice versa. This includes taking care of your health and spending time in leisure that feels worthwhile.
In many ways, real friendships can shape your life if you choose to be around folks who are positive, optimistic, going places and who value themselves, as well as others.
So what are the inner requirements to select a good friend? Do you remember that saying our mothers used to tell us, "You are the company you keep"? This mantra rings true for me even today!
My persistent curiosity to understand the workings of human consciousness and how best to surround myself with folks who model purity in thoughts, words and deeds, leaves me accommodating thousands of folks I am in contact with - but calling only a few close friends. I was recently awarded a doctor of humane letters degree from St. Thomas Aquinas College and I came across two very insightful quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas which ring true today – “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” And, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."
Some tips I find essential in maintaining a real friendship:
1. Friendships based on honesty, in which one or both of the parties gain a natural sense of trust.
2. Friendships based on common values, or those centered around principles that match intentions or purpose.
3. Friendships based on likes, in which both individuals share the same common activities which raise the quality of time spent together. You enjoy what the other one enjoys and learn a lot from it since it could be a mirror reflection.
4. Friendships based on support, whereby you can always turn to that person at any time of the day without having a second thought.
5. Friendships based on forgiveness, knowing that maybe one or both of you might be off, not in alignment, or you might have missed something and both are willing to offer respect and space for growth. Not to hold a grudge or be judgmental.
6. Friendships based on spirituality, there is always an interest in learning the ways of the mystics and implementing those experiences in their everyday lives.
It’s fascinating that over the ages, saints and mystics have offered a map towards a better way to be with one another and yet far too many times human beings come up short seeking short term friendships for more personal and physical gains. This is often true in politics or the corporate world. However, I do believe that if we become the best friends for ourselves, we just might keep attracting real friends who would more than likely be very much like ourselves. This is why I have aimed to practice my own life quote on a daily basis, "Love everyone the same." In so doing, the ones who are to walk alongside you will stay and those who might only be coming to take, will leave.
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