Years of research are convincing prove: It is almost impossible to be happy without friends. People who have them, on average, evaluated levels of happiness are almost 60% higher than those who are socially lonely. You don’t have to have dozens of friends to feel happy. With age, for example, the number of close comrades decreases, and there is a reason for this: people become more selective in communication. It is also important that the friend is not only the spouse or partner. And the type of friendship also plays a role. Here we will discuss what kind of friends a person needs for happiness and how to find them.
What is Friendship?
Friends may be different. Some you write and call every day to share a fresh anecdote or a bullshit idea. With others, you call up once a year. One of your friends is the person you would like to be like. Others you sincerely like, but admiration, in general, does not cause. Exactly the same way your friends treat you. For one, you are a friend who always gives good advice or can throw money up to paycheck. And someone perceives you as an attorney – a person to whom you can reveal the most expensive secret. We get different things from different relationships. And that’s okay.
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Perhaps one of the best and at the same time, the most concise classifications of friendships belongs to Aristotle. Its philosopher in his Nicomachean Ethics. The ancient Greek thinker represented friendship in the form of a kind of pyramid.
- At its lowest level, where emotional ties are weakest, there is a rational type of partnership based on mutual usefulness in work or social life. This is how colleagues, partners in business projects, or simply those who can render each other service of any kind are friends.
- The next step is friendship based on admiration. In this case, you become attached to a person because you see qualities in him that delight you. For example, a sharp mind or a good sense of humor. Aristotle called the highest level perfect friendship. These relationships are based solely on spiritual intimacy. There is no other reason in them, except for a sincere inexplicable craving for each other.
- The three kinds of friendship are not mutually exclusive. For example, you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with a person who also admires you with some of his traits. However, it is important to determine the relationship at the most pronounced level.
Which Type of Friendship Is Critical To Happiness and Which Is Not?
It is difficult to describe in words, but you certainly understand what a perfect friendship is. It is not related to work, money, or ambition and most often arises from a shared love for something. Such deep relationships are an important component of happiness.
Unlike true (perfect) friendship, rational friendship brings much less satisfaction. In it, a person cannot fully open up. For example, if you are friends with a colleague or business partner, you have to show off your professional side. It is unlikely that you will risk spoiling an important business relationship with a complicated personal conversation.
Unfortunately, modern urban life encourages people to make useful (rational) friendships, not perfect ones. Indeed: many give work at least 40 hours a week. That is, they communicate with colleagues much more than with family or acquaintances outside the office. So “mutually beneficial” friends can easily crowd out perfect ones.
How to Find Real Friends and Make Your Life Happier:
The steps to restoring a healthy friendship balance are fairly simple.
1. Analyze If You Have Real Friends
Ask yourself how many people know you really well. For example, who (other than close relatives!) is able to notice when you are a little unwell or a little upset, and sincerely ask if everything is in order?
If the answer is “No one”, then know that you are not alone in this. A 2018 poll found that 54% of American adults “always” or “sometimes” feel like no one cares or knows them well.
And here is another test for true friendship. Try to name a few people, not including your partner or spouse, with whom it is easy for you to talk about very personal, really exciting topics. And even if you managed to name a couple of names, remember how long ago you discussed such issues for the last time. If more than a month has passed since then, you may not be as close as you seem.
2. Take Existing Friendships beyond Usefulness
My wife and I realized that it was important for both of us to create deeper friendships, and we slightly restructured our social life.
When meeting with friends, we tried to redirect the conversation from every day, potentially useful topics like vacations, shopping, and repairs to more personal issues: happiness, love, moral principles, and spirituality. It helped us get closer to some buddies. And in other cases, on the contrary, it turned out that full-fledged relationships (that very perfect friendship) are impossible even in the future. But we were able to understand which people are really close to us and who we need to meet more often.
3. Make more “useless” friends
The key to building the perfect friendship is to view the relationship not as a stepping stone to something else, but as a separate good to strive for. Try to find buddies outside of your professional or educational circle. Befriend someone who can do nothing for you other than show interest, listen, and keep you company.
Try to spend more time in places where your career, business, or social ambitions are not important. The easiest way is to look for a new company in places where your hobbies are shared. And when you meet an interesting person, do not hesitate and just invite him to visit you.