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Friday, September 30, 2011

Friendship The Greatest Inconvenient Way to Relieve Stress

Friendship is inconvenient.  It is trying and often fragile.  Friendship frequently requires effort. Yet, in spite of all its impurities, friendship is the best salve for the fatigue of a hard day, the anxieties of a stressful experience or the melancholy of a tragic loss.

When one begins the search for his or her individual oasis away from the travails of everyday life, the single best place to search is in the company of a friend.

An apt adage declares that, “the best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.”

Many of us find friendship difficult, either because we feel we are imposing on that friend, or that the friend may impose on us.  Most frequently, when we are despondent, our first inclination is to seek solitude.  It is less true that misery loves company than that gloom makes no room for others.  Yet, by interacting with people, we are less able to focus on our own distresses.  Intuitively, then, when we least want company is when we should seek it out.  How lonely it would be to struggle across that barren desert, searching for our oasis, only to be trapped at that abandoned waterhole, having no one with whom we could share our sanctum!

Friendship is inconvenient, though.  It requires that we be prepared to give of ourselves, and to be there for our friends in need.  Need arises at greatly inconvenient times.  So how do we justify giving of ourselves to friends (and strangers) in need?  Do we selfishly do so, expecting that whatever favours we grant will be repaid?  That is a certain route to disappointment and resentment.  Giving to and being there for a friend should be viewed as the reward in itself.  Attitude determines the colour of the world around us.  The pleasure we derive from the comfort that we provide to a friend should be the selfish reward we seek; consequently, we should be selfish often.

Friendship can be fragile, though.  Disagreements – trivial or intense – occasionally threaten the fabric of interaction with friends.  How we handle those fractures determines our own emotional security, more so than that of our colleague. 

A friend lost may soon be found in the ranks of those whom you count as enemies.  Yet, by allowing a man the privilege of being your enemy, you strengthen him and weaken yourself.  Aristotle said, “The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.”  In truth, make as many of those enemies into friends as you can, for, like warm hugs, we can never embrace too many friends.  

Friendship, fortunately, is not fading as the television or computer screen replaces the face of a friend.  Yet, we need to be diligent in keeping human interaction in the forefront of our lives, if we wish to reduce the everyday anxieties that our fast-paced world throws at us.

Finding our individual oasis of comfort in life is less likely to be found in financial wealth than it is in the wealth of friends.  While friends may be found cheaply, they are the most precious possession we have in a stressful, combative world.

As Thomas Edison stated, “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favour of the kings of the world.”

Friends are, in fact, the kings and queens of the world.  Bow to them.

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