And this one is key: Support the person’s view of themselves and make them feel good about their pursuits.
Best friends don’t have to share an identity per se, but they do need to support the other’s view of himself and make each other feel great about their pursuits. Weisz asked a group of college freshmen about their close friends and used questionnaires to determine whether they received social identity support from them. She then followed up five years later, when the students had graduated and moved off campus. Social identity support didn’t predict whether the friendships generally endured, but it did predict whether one of the friends became a best friend. Part of maintaining a close friendship, Weisz points out, is supporting someone’s identity as it inevitably shifts over time.
My theory on this: be a cheerleader for your friends.
This is what we all want from our friends. And the more you give it, the more you will get it yourself.
The Buddhists have a name for this: Kalyana-Mitra — a “noble friend.” Since nobody can see their life totally, they confront people when they misstep even when doing so is awkward and uncomfortable. Like mirrors, even when we’re blind to our own actions, the words of a Kalyana-Mitra reflect your true self. Once you find a Kalyana-Mitra, invest in their friendship. Accelerating feedback loops is the fastest way to accelerate your learning or improve your behavior, and when you give excellent people a clear window into your life, their feedback will be invaluable. Unfortunately, most friends can’t really help each other. Since they don’t communicate with depth, honesty, or frequency, they gloss over their true challenges, many of which are taboo to discuss. But the shine on top will never fix the cracks beneath the surface. When you speak with somebody at length, you realize that everybody — yes, everybody — faces a waterfall of challenges. In difficult moments, friends serve as guides. Through dialogue and feedback, they help us navigate the unknown, alleviate suffering, and dodge the bullets of everyday life.
- Want to improve any relationship? The first step is try. Yeah, so easy you forgot to do it.
- Simple things can have the most profound impact, like actively showing interest in the other person. Listen to what they have to say and ask them to tell you more.
- Enthusiastically respond when they share good news with you. The best responses are active and constructive
- Share your own good news when you have some
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Book: Bowling Aloe
“Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a college education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so too can social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups.” For example, knowing the right people can help you find a job where your skills are well utilized. If you don’t know many people, you might struggle to find work and end up doing something you’re overqualified for or be unemployed for a while.
To give another example, if you’re friends with other parents in your local neighborhood, you can coordinate with them to share childcare responsibilities. If you’re not, you’re likely to end up paying for childcare or being more limited in what you can do when your kids are home from school.
Both individuals and groups have social capital. Putnam also explains that “social capital also can have externalities that affect the wider community, so that not all of the costs and benefits of social connections accrue to the person making the contact . . . even a poorly connected individual may derive some of the spillover benefits from living in a well-connected community.” A well-connected community is usually a safer community, and the safety extends, at least partly, to the least connected members.
Social capital enables us to trust other people. When we’re connected to many others, we develop a norm of “generalized reciprocity.” Putnam explains this as meaning “I’ll do this for you without expecting anything specific back from you, in the confident expectation that someone else will do something for me down the road.” We can go for the delayed payoff that comes from being nice without an agenda. Generalized reciprocity makes all of our interactions with other people easier. It’s a form of trust.
Whom We Love and Who We Are: José Ortega y Gasset on Love, Attention, and the Invisible Architecture of Our Being
A century and a half after astronomer Maria Mitchell — a key figure in Figuring — observed that “whatever our degree of friends may be, we come more under their influence than we are aware,” Ortega laments: We do not take into sufficient consideration the enormous influence which our loves exercise upon our lives.
The century of psychology developed since Ortega’s epoch has illuminated just how much “who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.
Trailblazing Astronomer Maria Mitchell on How We Co-Create Each Other and Recreate Ourselves Through Friendship
“Whatever our degree of friends may be, we come more under their influence than we are aware.”
“We can count on so few people to go that hard way with us,” Adrienne Rich wrote in her exquisite meditation on the art of honorable human relationships. While it is hard enough to inoculate the integrity of the word “friend” against today’s epidemic of misuse and overuse, it can be even harder to calibrate our expectations of those who have earned the benediction of the title — the chosen few we have admitted into the innermost chambers of the heart and entrusted with going that hard way with us. “Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship,” Seneca counseled in contemplating true and false friendship, “but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.” Two millennia later, the question of whom to welcome and to what extent remains one of the most delicate discernments with which life tasks us.
A friend is not to be found in the world such as one can conceive of, such as one needs, for no human being unites so many of the attributes of God as we feel our nature requires…. We have therefore a circle whom we call friends, giving a name to the whole, which perhaps in its singular occupation might be used for the combination. Out of the whole circle we may make up a single friend. We <a href="love.html">love</a> them all but we <a href="love.html">love</a> the union of all better. Who judges a work of art and sees only with his own eyes? Who listens to a lecture and hears only with his own ears? We turn aslant as we stand before the picture to see what good judges are looking. We open the guide book to see what we ought to admire…. Insensibly our judgment is inspired by that of those around us. It is not a weakness to be deplored. We were more than conceited did we rate ourselves so much above the rest of the world that we needed no outward aids to judgment. We were born dependent, our happiness is in the hands of others. Our character is molded by them and receives its coloring from them as much as our feeling relates the parental impress.
“Friendship is unnecessary,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
If you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken and you do not sufficiently understand what true friendship means… When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment. Those persons indeed put last first and confound their duties, who … judge a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him. 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. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself… Regard him as loyal and you will make him loyal. -- He who regards himself only, and enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly. The end will be like the beginning: he has made friends with one who might assist him out of bondage; at the first rattle of the chain such a friend will desert him. These are the so-called “fair-weather” friendships; one who is chosen for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as he is useful. Hence prosperous men are blockaded by troops of friends; but those who have failed stand amid vast loneliness their friends fleeing from the very crisis which is to test their worth. Hence, also, we notice those many shameful cases of persons who, through fear, desert or betray. The beginning and the end cannot but harmonize. He who begins to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays. A man will be attracted by some reward offered in exchange for his friendship, if he be attracted by aught in friendship other than friendship itself. -- 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. Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests. There is no such thing as good or bad fortune for the individual; we live in common. And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbour, if you would live for yourself. This fellowship, maintained with scrupulous care, which makes us mingle as men with our fellow-men and holds that the human race have certain rights in common, is also of great help in cherishing the more intimate fellowship which is based on friendship… For he that has much in common with a fellow-man will have all things in common with a friend.
In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about anyone else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history. Of course you will get to know about most of these in the end. But casually. They will come out bit by bit, to furnish an illustration or an analogy, to serve as pegs for an anecdote; never for their own sake. That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts. This <a href="love.html">love</a> (essentially) ignores not only our physical bodies but that whole embodiment which consists of our family, job, past and connections. At home, besides being Peter or Jane, we also bear a general character; husband or wife, brother or sister, chief, colleague, or subordinate. Not among our Friends. It is an affair of disentangled, or stripped, minds. Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
Amizade dá trabalho, não dá para ter uma amizade que seja uma carga leve. A amizade, tal como a parentalidade, como a responsabilidade sobre outras pessoas, é marcada por aquilo que o grande Antoine de Saint-Exupéry escreveu em “O Pequeno Príncipe”: “Tu és eternamente responsável por aquilo que cativas”. O uso do verbo cativar está em um sentido duplo, cativar como sedução e também como aprisionamento. Uma amizade que não exija luta pode enfraquecer ao ponto de se esvair. O maior distanciamento não é o distanciamento físico ou temporal, é o distanciamento de almas, isso que leva não quando uma pessoa pensa diferentemente de mim, mas quando ela me trai. A amizade não admite a traição; o amor admite, a paixão também. Mas a traição e a ingratidão são elementos que não cabem no conceito de amizade. (…) Ter amigos e amigas é importante sempre porque lembra cada um que não somos estrelas solitárias, somos constelação; a vida é constelação. Algumas dessas estrelas das constelações onde estamos brilham mais ou menos; outras estão no tempo e dentro de nós, porque nossos amigos e amigas não são somente as pessoas com quem convivemos, algumas já se foram mas continuam com a gente. (…) A amizade recusa o abandono, o isolamento; é uma forma de se distanciar da sensação de estar sozinho. É uma maneira de ter um adensamento da nossa vitalidade, da presença, do sentido, do pertencimento.
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