Friendship is a word we are all familiar with, and most of us assume we have friends. But do we? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as ‘the state of being friends; the relationship between friends; a friendly feeling or attitude.’ To most people, friendship assumes certain rights and privileges. To me, a friend is not only the person that has rights in my life. Friends are those who take seriously the duties, obligations, and responsibilities of friendship.
Everyone knows that when you are friends with someone, they assume certain rights and privileges. For example, my friends can drop in without an appointment, phone me late at night, ask for some cash until payday, and expect to be invited to my celebratory parties. They assume I will give them a lift when their car is broken, babysit their kids, and listen to the updates of their love life or lack of it. They can open my fridge and make a snack, and offer me a cup of coffee in my own kitchen. When they are sad or guilty and share their secrets with me. To some degree, I allow this, so I am considered a good friend.
However, these privileges carry reciprocal obligations with them. You, as my friend, must return the favors. When I arrive with my kids, you need to welcome us, not hide under the bed, or a flood of excuses. You are obliged to give me a lift to fetch my car, fill up my empty wallet, and drink coffee that I make you in your kitchen. And do not hide your leftovers when I rummage in your kitchen for a snack.
Then we need to look at the two words that make up the word friendship. It has been said that it is two men in one boat. Now that is where duty comes in. ‘Two men in a boat’ does not mean one rows the boat, while the other lies in the sun tanning and sipping Coke, Pepsi, or Buds. They both need to row the boat. This means they have an equal responsibility to make time in busy schedules to get together. When the one is repeating again how his wife left him and took his dog for the hundredth time, you have to show sympathy, even if you are glad the dog no longer visits and chews your new couch. It is a duty that undergirds the rights and privileges.
Friendship comes with responsibilities too. When he is pouring out his heart to you, then you must listen. What he tells you in confidence must remain with you. You are responsible for giving him advice rebuke and correction. And above all, when he does not heed it and falls, you have the responsibility to stand with him, in his failure, disgrace, and shame. To identify with him, comfort and encourage him, and help him get up. And in the end, to simply forgive and love him.
The best thing about friendship is that whether you are just sharing some good laughs over a cup of coffee or hugging each other to support in some dark times, a strong friendship is linked to many emotional, mental, and physical health benefits. Many studies show that friendship influences the way the human body deals with stress. When people spend time with their best friends sharing and supporting each other, their bodies tend to produce less stress hormone that is called “cortisol.” This, in turn, brings the desired calming effect.
What is more, according to the most recent studies of people at the age of 12 to 91, the measures of health like body mass index, blood pressure, and waist circumference are better in people who have strong social ties.
At the same time, friendships are not always bright and simple. No matter how long you have been involved in a relationship, things can get tough at any moment. It is not a secret that any friendship can be challenging and even destructive, and some people tend to be in need of good friends more than anyone else. As researchers keep on studying the aspects of friendships, all of us are engaged in a different challenge at a personal level: creating and maintaining solid connections with people in order to make our life better and add the same positivity to the lives of others.
Webster’s refers to friendship as a ‘friendly feeling or attitude.’
I have a friendly feeling and attitude towards my dog, but we aren’t friends. Likewise, I have the same friendly feeling towards the waitress at the local restaurant, but I do not even know her surname. I know I have nine friends and consider myself rich because of them. Each one is a rare treasure.
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