How many friends do you have?
I don’t mean people you associate with at work, people you know through other people or people you meet at the gym, the pub, the walker’s group. Real friends. People who actually love you and who you love in return.
There was a time in my life where I had no friends, was bullied at school and didn’t get on with my family. I looked around and saw groups of people hanging out together, you know, the popular kids, and thought if only I was a part of them, I would be so happy.
But I was shy, slightly gawky and very awkward around people. My social skills were non-existent and I was genuinely someone people regarded as very strange. I understand the reasons now but at the time, I was heartbroken and would have done anything to have a friend.
In fact, I remember one particular girl at school. I must have been around 11 or 12 years old and I think she was new to my class. I latched on to her and was so desperate to finally have a friend that I drove her away with my neediness.
So back to being alone for me – how I wished to be part of a large group of friends like the other girls.
Whilst at one time I truly felt that the more friends you had, the more love you would find, fast forward to today and I find myself immensely grateful for my small band of loyal, loving and supportive friends.
I discovered that in fact having meaningful friendship with a handful of wonderful people is far more valuable than having superficial conversation with lots of them. It is the real and fulfilling relationships you create with those to whom you have a real connection that will add to your happiness. Quality not quantity.
I know someone who believed he had tons of friends. He thought he was super popular and people loved him. When tough times hit, he discovered that the people he believed were his friends all melted away and he was alone. Perhaps they were there for the free food and entertainment he offered, perhaps it was the work opportunities they thought he could get them or perhaps they felt more important by being seen to be friends with him. Reflected glory if you like.
Today, he has very few friends as I’m not sure he trusts many people to get close to him. Underneath the showman, the popular funny man is someone with a heart of gold, someone who would do anything for anyone and someone who is generous to a fault.
He discovered that in fact having lots of friends was a lonely place to be. He discovered that his life now, with just a few important people, people who genuinely love and appreciate him is far happier than it ever was. His ego may have been bruised and his heart broken but today he is more real, more genuine and more content than ever before.
So how do you know who your real friends are?
Take a look around. Notice the people who make the effort to keep in touch, the ones who are there when you are having a hard time, the ones who tell you their secrets (not gossipers but those who confide in you), the ones who greet you with a genuine smile that reaches their eyes and those who when they hug you, you feel genuine warmth.
These are the people to value. These are the friendships which will add to your happiness just as you add to theirs. It is the mutual benefit, the give and take that you are able to offer each other which forms the basis of real friendship.
Guard these beautiful people with your life as you will only ever have a handful if you are lucky.
In this funny video we see Sheldon from Big Bang Theory using his powers of logic to create a friendship algorithm. He makes a call to someone he knows and endeavours to use his algorithm to set up a time to connect. Watch what he discovers … just for a laugh x