by David Ward
“The only way to have a friend is to be one” said Ralph Waldo Emerson in this month’s happiness calendar. So, this month, this inspired me to speak about friendship and its relation to happiness.
This topic might come at an inappropriate time or exactly the opposite depending on how you feel but the bottom line is that we need friends, at least one. But who is this friend or more important what is friendship? And if we have more than one friend how do they connect to happiness?
Well let’s start off with a wiki definition to set the scene: ‘Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people’. Fair enough but not sufficient to entirely ignite the engines of happiness, at least not mine.
Let me expand on this a bit further, something mutual might suggest that friendship is based on commonalities yet we also know that ‘opposites attract’ and there is a sort of exchange going on, so mutuality is not as straight forward as it seems. So perhaps it makes more sense to argue that friendship leads to happiness through circumstance where people relate because of the need or occasion to share a moment in their respective lives. In this case circumstance may be negative or positive such as the tragic loss of a loved one or participation at an event such as a wedding or birth.
While circumstances might seem accidental, I believe they do serve a purpose just like life, and having friends and nurturing friendship allows us to discover that purpose. In turn nurturing relies on affection and it often spurs me to think of the demonstration of love, but I believe it is much more and usually interlinks with liking, friendliness, amity, fondness, dependency, need and so forth. So, this idea of mutual affection needs to conjugate different things in order to achieve and sustain friendship and through it, happiness. I make a parallel here to us walking where in order for our legs to move we need to coordinate the foot, ankle, knee and central nervous system and brain in order to stroll or for that matter jog or run.
If we are to find friends, we need a reason, that could derive from circumstance, and a mutual reciprocated enjoyable outcome/connection that confirms we are compatible, alike and achieve/share something in common that we both like. As we decide to walk, we take a direction, but it is not the destination that matters rather the journey we take and who we share it with. So, the opening proverb is not individualistic rather the recognition that we need company in our journey of life. If we find the right travel companions it will be a happy journey.
The saying “Birds of a feather flock together” is not coincidental rather testimony of this truth. Here the saying suggests that people who like the same things and have similar personalities tend to enjoy spending time and doing things together. Here we witness that attraction is through a commonality, such as genre of music, activities like sport, political ideas, workplace etc.
Participation therefore stems from the enjoyment of spending time together and thus living the same experience simultaneously but possible with different roles and different points of view. Nevertheless the route is the same and friendship blossoms if we give it chance. When we speak of friends it is not just about people, it could be between animals as well as between man and animal. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “A dog is a man’s best friend” and that is in spite of the fact we can’t really talk to each other. It doesn’t relegate human relationships rather it demonstrates that true friendship is indeed about relationships and very often exempt of judgement, bias and gain. There is a sentence of benevolence and being there when needed, often without plan, minimum “communication” and no plea. It testifies that love and a mutual passion for something and for each other appear coincidental yet bizarrely enacted without notice or verdict. So, that no matter what the circumstance all of these factors are at the very core of happiness and a prerequisite for sustaining it. Friendship and Happiness walk hand-in-hand, just as friends and partners do in their daily lives. You can’t be friends of yourself and that’s why day 1 of the happiness calendar for February (ACTION FOR HAPPINESS) states “Send someone a message to say how much they mean to you”.
So, in closure, and fittingly, the happiness calendar leitmotif for the month of February 2021 is Friendly, a most appropriate follow-on from January 2021, that was “Happier“.
Accordingly, to all my friends out there, may I wish you a wonderful happy and friendly 2021!