The Meaning of Friend: Celebrate National Friendship Week

National Friendship Week(Photo by Juliana Coutinho)

Everyone hears what you say.
Friends listen to what you say.
Best friends listen to what you don’t say.
– Anonymous

What is a True Friend?

Friendship is a highly prized value of any person. Having friends can mean the difference from an “okay” life and a life of meaning and connectedness. Having someone to talk to about life’s difficulties and concerns makes everything feel better. Just knowing someone cares can make a big difference in how a person copes with life. The term kenzoku, in Japanese, means the deepest type of friendship possible, similar to being a part of a family. Kenzoku means that two people share the same destiny and also a deep sense of connection.

Most people will have lots of casual friends in their lives, someone to see movies with or enjoy dinner out. However, it is much more difficult to find a best friend or a friend that you can tell your secrets to without any risk of the secrets being told elsewhere. Having a best friend means that they accept you for who you are and you don’t need to act in a certain manner to maintain the friendship. A true friend is happy for you when something good happens.

Social Media and Friendship

Many psychologists are worried that our emphasis on social media is affecting our ability for personal interaction. It is easy to make casual contacts on social media and many compete to see just how many “friends” or “fans” they can accumulate. However, none of these contacts (or maybe only a few) are likely to be true friends – the kind where you can call them up in the middle of the night with a problem, and they won’t get angry. The lists of contacts on social media can give us the illusion of friendship when really, the lists are just lots of names that may share only one interest.

Being a Good Friend

Making real friends still requires heartfelt communication, common values and shared interests. It means going the extra mile with a friend who needs your ear or has good news to share. It takes a partnership approach and the ability to give as good as you get. In this kind of relationship, there is a give and take as each friend shares in the problems, achievements, and life issues of the other. Some people view it as a soul connection.

May our house always be too small to hold all our friends(Photo by David Goehring)

Being a good friend means staying in regular contact, being open minded to the other, truly listening, not making quick judgments, supporting the other when needed, forgiving, and having fun together. This process usually takes some time, because building trust in each other is also essential. Just as with anything that takes time to build, the outcome is often very much worth the investment.

It may take some work to make new friends, especially when you move to a new location, but try to build a friendship on shared interests. Go to functions or join groups based on activities you enjoy. Ask for contact information and invite people out for coffee to get to know them better. Keep at it, and soon you will find those people you click with and have the potential for a lasting friendship.

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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