The Art of Friendship

“Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life.” C.S. Lewis

I was tidying up a little yesterday and came across an article I had photocopied from a magazine in 1983 called “Why A Good Friend Is Hard to Find”. It was an interview from a professor about how to be a better friend. It struck me how, even 35 years ago at age 22, I regarded the topic of friendship to be important enough to be worthy of study.

In the past week, I’ve spent a large part of my discretionary time with some of my best friends. While I know that we cannot live without food, clothing, and shelter, I would not want to live in a world without friendship.

When asked how a good friendship is formed, Eugene Kennedy from Loyola University said, “The most essential key in building a friendship is the capacity to accept ourselves as we are and then to present ourselves to others in a way that they will also perceive as genuine and real.”

I aspire to make friendship an art. Here are some of the qualities that I’ve settled upon as being critical in that aspiration:

  1. Communication (frequent, clear)
  2. Positivity (encouragement, laughter, affirmation, gratitude, acts of service)
  3. Consistency (steadiness, interacting on a continual basis)
  4. Vulnerability (revealing and sharing of lives)

As a result of these things, you can expect certain fruit: effortless time together; neither keeping score; not centered on gossip; no jealousy between you; and judgment free.

Anything you give in friendship is more then returned to you. A friend is a mirror into your own character and soul. As such, if you want, you can become a better person by being a better friend.

As Hanya Yanagihara said: “You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are — not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving — and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you.”

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