“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
? Helen Keller
This post was inspired by three emails I received this morning, all of which share a similar theme about friendship. Below I have shared a small excerpt from each (with permission). I know you will appreciate them:
- “Kayla, my 12-year-old daughter, speaks fluent sign language because her best friend, Megan, who she grew up with from the time she was an infant, is deaf. Seeing their genuine friendship evolve and grow over the years truly warms my heart.”
- “My younger brother, Greg, spends most of his free time at school hanging out with the football team – he’s actually been working out with the team and everything. Greg has a mild case of autism. About a year ago my mom was ready to pull him out of school and have him homeschooled due to excessive bullying from peers. One of the popular football players, who had stood up for him in the past, heard about this, explained the situation to his teammates and friends, and stood by his side until the bullying stopped. Now, a year later, he’s just ‘one of the guys.’”
- “Yesterday my sister and I were in a pretty bad car accident. Luckily both of us were wearing our seat belts and didn’t have any major injuries. My sister is and always has been Mrs. Popular – she knows everyone. I’m the complete opposite – an introvert who hangs out with the same two girls all the time. My sister immediately posted a comment on Facebook and Instagram about our accident. And while all her friends were commenting, my two friends showed up independently at the scene of the accident before the ambulance arrived.”
Each of these emails made me smile because they reminded me of the power of true friendship. There’s honestly nothing more beautiful and meaningful in this world.
The author of the third email excerpt above ended her email with this line: “I know I don’t have a lot of friends, but I’m sure grateful I have a couple worth fighting for.”
And that’s exactly what I want to reflect on in this post – 10 types of friends worth fighting for…
1. Friends who make time for each other.
There are countless intricacies to every great friendship, but the foundation is always incredibly simple: making time for each other. The key is to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away when the going gets a little tough, don’t be distracted too easily, don’t be too busy or tired, and don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and happiness together. It’s powerful stuff!
So put down the smart phone, close the laptop and enjoy each other’s company, face to face, the old fashioned way.
There are few joys that equal a good conversation, a genuine laugh, a long walk, a friendly dance, or a big hug shared by two people who care about each other. Sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary simply by doing them with the right people. You know this! Choose to be around these people, and choose to make the most of your time together.
2. Friends who are willing to put in the necessary effort.
Healthy, long-term friendships are amazing, but rarely easygoing 24/7. Why? Because they require flexibility and compromise.
Two different people will always have two slightly different perspectives about the same situation. Resisting this truth and seeing the hard times as immediate evidence that something is catastrophically wrong, or that you’re supposed to see eye-to-eye on everything, only aggravates the difficulties. By contrast, finding the willingness to view the challenges as learning opportunities will give you the energy and strength you need to continue to move forward and grow your friendship for decades to come.
3. Friends who believe in each other.
Sometimes we see our worst selves…. our most vulnerable and weak selves. We need someone else to get close enough to tell us we’re wrong. Someone we trust. That’s what true friends are for.
Simply believing in another person, and showing it in words and deeds on a consistent basis, can make a HUGE difference in their life. Several studies of people who grew up in dysfunctional homes but who grew up to be happy and successful show that the one thing they had in common was someone who believed in them. Be this ‘someone’ for those you care about. Support their dreams. Participate with them. Cheer for them. Be nothing but encouraging. Whether they actually follow through with their present dreams, or completely change their minds, is irrelevant; your belief in them is of infinite importance, either way. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
4. Friends who face challenges and weaknesses together.
When we honestly ask ourselves which friends have helped us the most, we often find that it’s those special few who, instead of giving lots of advice, specific solutions, or quick cures, have chosen rather to share in our challenges and touch our wounds with a listening ear and a loving heart.
The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of pain and mourning, who can tolerate not knowing or having all the answers, not curing and fixing everything in an instant, and instead simply face the reality of our momentary powerlessness with us, that is a friend worth fighting for.
5. Friends who are gentle and compassionate through life’s changes.
Be gentle and compassionate with your friends as they evolve and change. Mother Nature opens millions of flowers every day without forcing the buds. Let this be a reminder not to be forceful with those you care about, but to simply give them enough light and love, and an opportunity to grow naturally.
Ultimately, how far you go in life depends on your willingness to be helpful to the young, respectful to the aged, tender with the hurt, supportive of the striving, and tolerant of those who are weaker or stronger than the majority. Because we wear many hats throughout the course of our lives, at some point in your life you will have been all of these people, and the same is true for your friends.
6. Friends who support each other’s growth.
No human being is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.
Healthy friendships always move in the direction of personal growth: for the relationship as a whole and for each individual in it. A desire to impede the growth of the other for one’s personal comfort is an expression of fear.
When you connect with a true friend, this person helps you find the best in yourself. In this way, neither of you actually meet the best in each other; you both grow into your best selves by spending time together and nurturing each other’s growth.
7. Friends who tell the truth.
Subconsciously, many of us prefer gentle lies to hard truths. But make no mistake, in the end it’s better to be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie. Friendships based on lies always die young.
Lying is a cumulative process too. So be careful. What starts as a small, seemingly innocent lie (possibly even with the intention of not hurting anyone) quickly spirals into a mounting fairytale where the biggest factor preventing you from sharing the truth is the unwanted reputation of being known as a liar.
Don’t do this. Don’t hide behind lies. Deal with the truth, learn the lessons, endure the consequences of reality, and move your friendship forward.
8. Friends who are tolerant of each other’s inevitable mood swings.
Giving your friends the space to save face, and not taking things personally, when they’re occasionally upset, cranky or having a bad day is a priceless gift.
Truth be told, what others say and do is often based entirely on their own self-reflection. When a friend who is angry and upset speaks to you, and you nevertheless remain very present and continue to treat them with kindness and respect, you place yourself in a position of great power. You become a means for the situation to be graciously diffused and healed.
My grandmother once told me, “When somebody backs themselves into a corner, look the other way until they get themselves out; and then act as though it never happened.” Allowing a friend to save face in this way, and not reminding them of what they already know is not their most intelligent behavior, is an act of great kindness. This is possible when you realize that people behave in such ways because they are in a place of momentary suffering. People react to their own thoughts and feelings and their behavior often has nothing directly to do with you.
9. Friends who work out their issues with each other, not with others.
This may seem obvious, but these days it’s worth mentioning: NEVER post negatively about a friend on social media. Fourteen-year-old school kids post negatively about their friends on social media. It’s a catty way to get attention and vent, when the emotionally healthy response is to talk your grievances over with them directly when the time is right.
Don’t fall into the trap of getting others on your side either, because healthy friendships only have one side – it’s called mutual respect.
Furthermore, friendships and their intricacies don’t always make sense, especially from the outside. So don’t let outsiders run your friendship for you. If you’re having an issue with a friend, work it out with THEM and no one else. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
10. Friends who are faithful from a distance.
Sometimes life puts geographic barriers between you and a good friend. But growing apart geographically doesn’t change the fact that for a long time you two grew side by side; your roots will always be tangled. Knowing this, embracing it, and making the best of it… that’s a clear sign of true friendship.
In the end, this ‘true’ kind of friendship is a promise made in the heart – silent, unwritten, unbreakable by distance, and unchangeable by time.
The floor is yours…
In your experience, what helps create a happy, long-lasting friendship? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: Malina Sternberg