Friends and Friendship


Some time ago I did a survey on “What Would You Like Me To Write About in MIND MATTERS News”. The topic of Friends and Friendship came up a few times. I have baulked at writing about this (until now) for two reasons. One is that it is such a huge topic, however I have someone who started me off – my gorgeous wife Sandra. She is my best and truest friend and I consider myself extremely lucky to have her love and friendship.

And the second is that I may strike a raw nerve with some readers. If that is the case please keep reading because there may be some words of encouragement that can help no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

Where do Friends Come From?
How much control do we have over who becomes … or who remain … our friends?� Certain people are randomly thrust upon us – or happen to be in our sphere of people we meet – when we are at school, but ultimately it is our own personal choice which of those people we pursue as friends and remain friends with.

These friendships we have during the teenage years are often more intense than at any other time in our life and indeed at that time of life are often the most important relationships to us – even more so sometimes than family.� Some of the friendships we forge during our childhood and teenage years are cemented strongly enough to last for ever.� I count my wife Sandra as very fortunate for she has as her two best girlfriends one she has known since she was 3 years old and another that she has had since she was 13 years old. In fact this trio are inseparable and have been so for half a century.

I was a later starter than Sandra however I still consider myself fortunate. The 4 years bonding that I had with 60 other guys with the shared experience of going through Duntroon Military College has had a profound effect on my own life. I have always had reunions to go to, share a drink at different times or am able to make a telephone call to any one of 60 guys.

Later in life as we develop our own interests we may join sports, social, church, music etc… clubs or associations and this then puts us in the midst of people who have similar interests to our own.� This then narrows the randomness of people we may become friends with.� The same can be said when we start a job or a career.� The people we meet through work can often become good friends.
Looking for a Partner or for Friends

Many people cope with loneliness and do not find it an issue.� One of the main reasons for this may be because they are quite happy with themselves and do not consider themselves as lonely and indeed develop a strong sense of independence. This group of people “take responsibility for themselves” and don’t have a need to look outside themselves. Some are content with casual social acquaintances.� Are these people “happy”? Some are!

Often acquaintances, friends or partners are actively sought – and is that OK? Of course it is. My advice is always to start with yourself by “loving yourself” (in other words “take responsibility for yourself”.)� I have said in a meditation that you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life so you might as well “love yourself” and in any event if you don’t “love yourself” how can you expect others to “love you” or attract others into your life?

So, where to look? I would always look in the areas of “life interest” that you have. I am thinking of things like joining a bushwalking club, perhaps a sporting organisation, perhaps a bridge or theatre club, perhaps a community service club. How do you look? Just by joining the club and giving of yourself and be willing to listen to others.

Is it Important to Have Friends?

Studies have shown that having a good network of friends can enhance our happiness and general well-being and even improve our prospects of a long and healthy life. (Studies have also shown the opposite to be true – loneliness and a lack of friends and social support can be linked to various health breakdowns and a bleaker outlook to life.)

Another good reason to have friends that most of us have heard is … “A trouble shared is a trouble halved” and how true it is. What a wonderful relief and comfort it is to share our innermost thoughts, fears and concerns with a true and trusted friend. What a blessing it is to have a friend with whom to share our thoughts. Many people bottle up things like “trauma” and you know from my own story that this can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder whereas, the real answer is to “talk about it”.
Beware or Be Aware!

Be aware that it is important to surround yourself with supportive people. If you can do this all the time that is truly great. Perhaps unfortunately, we cannot choose our relatives! Be aware that some of them may be very negative and that can affect us, so we need to have methods of protecting ourselves, or at least negating the negativity. Some say “Friends are the family we choose.”

In the Dr Bernie Siegel movie Leap Of Faith, a true story is told about Debbie Frank Ogg who had cancer. She had a very negative sister who didn’t believe that she could help to cure herself and described Debbie’s activities as “chasing rainbows”. Debbie’s energy was sapped every time she had contact with her sister so she took Dr Bernie’s advice and cut communications with her sister (until she was healed).

I am a believer in sharing our goals and ambitions only with those people who will support or assist us. Sometimes when you share with your relatives or friends, negativity or jealousies can be sparked so that unhelpful statements such as “you have got tickets on yourself” or “I’ll believe it when I see it” can be made and you don’t need these. So just be aware!

Has the quality of friendship altered over the years? Are true close personal friends as common or as desired today as they once were? Or perhaps is our social need for a friend satisfied by the ubiquitous social networking websites? Personally I do not believe so. In fact my thoughts are that “Internet Friends” are mostly just acquaintances. What do you think?

Attributes of Friends or Friendship

I have seen friendship defined as: “a voluntary relationship between equals”. Do you agree with this? I came across an old saying … “One who looks for a friend without faults will have none.” Perhaps being a true friend is recognising the imperfections in our friend and loving them in spite of that. It is also very uplifting and encouraging to know we are loved by our friends in spite of our own failings.

What are some of the attributes that we look for in a true friend? Certainly trust, and complete honesty. And unconditional loving whereby we do things for one another without expecting repayment. A true friend will want what is best for their friend and be a good listener. Understanding, compassion, empathy and even sympathy are often much sought after qualities in a friend.

If a friend is about to do something wrong, or that we disagree with, we should not compromise our own standards but rather explain our feelings on their possible actions and what we believe to be a better approach. This is where peer pressure and insecurity, especially during the teenage years, can prevent us from standing up for ourselves and our own true inner beliefs and sometimes get us into trouble by following the crowd, like a sheep. Friendships will often eventually disintegrate when one person in the friendship becomes quite immoral, or even criminal.

So, I encourage you to become a good friend, stay in touch. Value and nurture your friendships as they are precious and extremely important. To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend. Share the joys and be there for one another in times of need.

All the best,


Success Stories
    I want to thank you so much for opening my eyes, opening my heart, soul� and most importantly teaching me to understand my mind and myself. Last week I felt my world as I knew it was gone and felt it was all my fault was and I was so low that I even thought about ending my life by suicide. This was selfish of me but I didn’t know how to cope or understand my life so felt I might be better off dead.
     After the weekend seminar I have learnt more about my mind, body and my being than I have in my 56 years of life. When my husband left� he told me it was all my fault and that he had told me to see a psychiatrist, a doctor and get some medication for my problems. Do you know what I did? I forgave him and myself for the failure in our marriage and I have let go of the guilt that I have felt for most of my life for not being good enough. I feel I have a future now.  MD, NSW

    Sandy, just to update you, I listen to Inner Peace and Happiness most nights when I wake up thinking of work. Thanks. HC, Qld

     I felt I achieved so much in meditation and never once felt I was not as good or as educated as everyone else in the seminar (which is what I usually do).
     Sandy I make a promise to myself to work on what I have learnt at the seminar and continue to grow as my own person. In time my goal next year is to attend your CHI 4-day live-in seminar and then go on to do further study with you to make a difference to other people as YOU have done for me.
     Thank you again from the bottom of my heart and soul. MM, NSW


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