It has always been difficult and tricky to define friendship without overlooking any of its significant factors. In this article, through mentioning some of the known facts about friendship and relating them to our daily lives, I will try to describe it in relatively few words, according to my humble understanding.
We all know human beings are gregarious by nature. It is due to this nature of ours, social life has immense infusion to our individual life. Perhaps that is why the great Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, claims man to be a social animal. Now friendship, if we further contemplate, is an indispensable reality of social life. In this brief paper, my aim is to provide a general idea of what true friendship is, along with its importance and benefits.
Denis Diderot, in his encyclopedia, defines friendship as “the commerce (with someone) in which the heart takes an interest because of the pleasure it derives from it.” Diderot further posits that the commerce involving pure mind rather than the heart is an acquaintance, not friendship. I would like to add a point to his claim. According to him, heart captures interest because of the “pleasure” friendship derives. Seeking only pleasure in friendship seems quite self-centered and unoriginal. Moreover, the source of affection and love between people, other than for kinsfolk, cannot simply be based on pleasure only. The truth is, however, when the heart finds interest due to the “virtues of the fellow person”, it is true friendship. Pleasure, namely, is one of the many influential upshots of a faithful relationship.
Many have also questioned the durability of friendships; how long a friendship between individuals is reckoned to last, in relation to diverse circumstances? The time period of a general friendship is considered to depend on multiple factors such as intensity of bond, age, dwelling, etc. In spite of this information, I personally believe a true friendship is never-ending, or more specifically, has timeless memories; both happy and sad. In some cases, friends might not be practically together due to residence remoteness and/or excessive work exertion. Yet, time and time again, a part in their hearts echoes with affection for one another; they are present in each others’ hearts. Now I would invite the readers to attend to the benefits of being under this umbrella of true love and source of ageless memories.
Benefits of Friendship
For quite some time, psychologists and researchers were tempted to discover the benefits of friendship. Though exploration still continues on the subject in an enormous amount, so far, tons of studies and programs have declared friendship “life-enhancing” (1). In contrast, the absence of friendship, or to simply put it; loneliness is deemed damaging to mental and physical health. The question is, what aspects of life and health does friendship influences, in order for, we call it “life-enhancing”? Let us explore the answer.
Conventional intelligence believes; friendships boost the individual’s sense of happiness. Happiness, in turn, has scores of positive biological and psychological impacts. For example, according to the research of Kira M. Newman, a writer and editor, happiness systematically protects the heart, strengthens the immune system, diminishes stress, combats diseases and disability, and enhances longevity. A couple of other potential advantages of friendships, proposed by many researchers, include the opportunity to learn about empathy and problem solving. Moreover, in front of friends, an individual feels at ease with his or her personal identity and innate habits. Such a comfortable zone directs the person towards no pressure; rather, it contributes to self-confidence and social development.
What is more, true friends are selfless and supportive to their fellow friends at difficult times. They can act as a source of motivation for one another, concerning the hardships of life. A report from Mayo Clinic is parallel to the prescription: friendships “increase your sense of belonging and purpose”; furthermore, they “help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one.” Therefore, one can avow, friendships are highly effective for the emotional dimension of human beings as well.
Conflicts in Friendship
In friendships too, like in any other relationship, involved individuals can quarrel, now and then. These disputes are temporary and are melted away by the warmth of mutual affection and understanding between true friends. However, lack of productive efforts or knowledge can exacerbate the situation as well. Hence, it is wise to explore the foundation of these clashes, in order to prevent them in the first place. Sufficient knowledge on the subject can also help the person to distinguish his true friends from the fake ones. Under this section, I underpin (and clarify) the reasons for conflicts in friendships into three chief bases; triviality, external grounds, and communication gaps.
Firstly, disputes may ensue when a trivial approach, intentional or unintentional, is adopted by an involved individual concerning friendship. A trivial approach, technically, refers to expressing insignificance in friendship or not taking the responsibility of being a friend sincerely. This can be due to paucity of knowledge about the role of accountability in friendship by the person (unintentional) or deliberate reasons (intentional), directing to the warning of a fake friend. The unintentional case is usually concerned towards the lower age groups of society. Let us observe the insightful words of Khalil Gibran on this matter, “friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity (2).” It is noteworthy, responsibility in friendship is never onerous, for this reason, Mr. Gibran utilizes the word “sweet” before responsibility to brush aside any sort of misleading interpretation.
Secondly, a third-party aims to jeopardize friendship between individuals, owing to hatred or in their own personal interest. Assuming either motive, loyalty and honest communication between friends are the best remedies to thwart any iniquitous intervention.
Lastly, communication gaps occur when the message intended to be delivered by the speaker is not understood by the recipient. The reason behind this, as the name suggests, is poor communication. In friendships, this leads to misapprehension and, thus, towards negative estimations about the fellow friend. Solution to the issue lies in communication itself. Honest and open communication, or technically, effective communicative skills can ultimately bridge the communication gaps, and reduce the likelihood of their proliferation.
To conclude, friendship is an astounding and somewhat special gift of life; one which systematically benefits the friends at social and mental level, and in another sense, psychologically strengthens their willpower to live life confidently and optimistically, regardless of what the circumstances might be. Obviously, true friendship demands certain responsibilities at times, yet one should always remember that such responsibilities are “sweet”, which eventually result in creating pleasant and timeless memories! And once these memories are implanted in the brain, they somehow find a way to sprout the flower of love in the hearts. That’s why I think we can construe friendship as “bridge between the hearts” – don’t you agree?
1. Telfer, E., 1970-71, “Friendship”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 71: 223-41.
2. “Khalil Gibran Quotes”. BrainyQuote. N.p., 2016. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.