With the exception of wisdom, I’m inclined to believe that the immortal gods have given nothing better to humanity than friendship.Cicero
The emotional drama circling around love and family has caught the attention of researchers and philosophers for ages, but they’ve spent much less time pondering the deep satisfaction of a good friend.
Why are friends so important?
Since we were kids, the one thing that has stayed constant in our lives apart from our parents has been friends. Though the friends have changed, they have always been there for us. Whether it was sharing a burst of laughter early in the morning, the late-night anguish, the success party or the tears of failure friends are the ones always on our speed dial.
Have you ever wondered what life would be without them?
Our culture places a high value on romantic relationships. We believe that finding the proper partner will bring us happiness and fulfillment. However, studies reveal that friends are much more crucial to our psychological well-being. Friendship brings us more joy than almost anything else in our life.
Friendships have a significant impact on one’s mental health and well-being. Friendships ease stress, bring comfort and delight, and keep you from feeling lonely and alone. Developing intimate friendships can have a significant impact on your physical well-being. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and maintaining a sedentary lifestyle are all risks, but so is a lack of social connection. Friendship has even been linked to lifespan.
According to a Swedish study, having a large social network, in addition to physical activity, can help you live longer.
Close friendships, on the other hand, do not just happen. Many of us find it difficult to meet new people and form meaningful friendships. It’s never too late to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and dramatically improve your social life, emotional health, and overall well-being, regardless of your age or circumstances.
Now let us discuss what some poets have to say about Friendship.
I Like You: An Ode to Friendship
The simple yet beautiful verses describe friendship as mediation, the sweetest, knotless and untroubled kind. The depth of the verses is illustrated with the kindred sensibility of Chwast’s simple and richly expressive black and white drawings.
Seneca on Friendship
Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul
Every individual whose life has been blessed with a genuine friend understands the meaning of friendship. This can also be seen in the ‘letters from a Stoic‘ a collection of wisdom sent to Lucilius Junior by his friend Seneca. The letters in various instances describe friendship and what it means:
True and False Friendship
Seneca says that if you call a person your friend, but do not trust him/her, just as you trust yourself, then you do not understand the true meaning of friendship. Before friendship is formed, you can pass any many judgments as you want, but once bound by the love of friendship, you only trust. People who decide to make a friend and then judge then are not true to their duties as a friend.
He says there is no fixed time for friendship formation, so you can take as much as you want, but once you have accepted him/her with all your heart and soul, speak boldly with him, and regard him as loyal.
On Philosophy and Friendship
In this letter, Seneca discusses the common base on which friendship is formed and admonishes. A very common thought, but individuals have started seeing each other as utilitarian tools that help advance our personal goal. By estimating how much help an individual can be during the time of need, people are making friends.
One who seeks friendship for favourable occasions, strips it of all its nobility
The friendship formed due to some hidden motive does not thrive and their end is similar to their beginning, completely lonely. Such friends Seneca describes it as ‘ Fair-water’ friendship whose formulation and breakage has a utility attached. He draws a parallel between prosperous people, who have a lot of friends, and people who fail are left behind alone, as their friends flee during the time of crisis.
For what purpose, then, do I make a man my friend? In order to have someone for whom I may die, whom I may follow into exile, against whose death I may stake my own life, and pay the pledge, too.
A timeless read, letters from a Stoic mentions how a single person who only holds himself in regard cannot transform anything. The human race has some rights and a genuine friendship extends its rewards beyond the personal realm and becomes the civilizational glue that holds humanity together.
In this modern age of the internet, friendship is restricted to Facebook, and the love bond to the GIFs and memes shared on Whatsapp. True friendship has no survival value, but it gives us a reason to survive. It is important that we remember the levels of personhood by philosopher Amelie Rorty.
For all humans inhabiting the earth at the same time as ours, but we haven’t met are the acquaintance.
Under that circle are the people we like to call friends, these are the people I know and like.
At the center, we have the Kinded spirits, whose values are closely skin to our own and have the same values and principles. These are our friends In the fullest sense.
A friend is one who accepts our real and ideal self and has a lot of patience with the difference between the two. A true friend while holds us lovingly accountable for our own ideals is also able to forgive us for the ways in which we fall short of them. They assure us that we are more than our stumbles, they shape us, but cannot define us, and we will be able to surpass these stumbles with our personhood and friendship.