questions on friendship

what happens when you hang around someone who is unkind?

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Last two weeks, I read one of my favorite newsletters, and I came across this sentence “I am perfectly fine ranting privately to my loved ones.”

I read past it only for my mind to keep going back to the sentence. There are two things I observed;

  1. It’s perfectly okay to rant - even though we try to avoid it. When things are not going well, it is important to speak up.

  2. Having loved ones is underrated: In a world where everything is becoming about “me,” we need to understand that we are social beings. Interacting with one another stimulates us and prevents us from the adverse effect of prolonged isolation and loneliness.

    Having people around us- family and friends- is a big plus. While we don’t have the luxury to choose the family we are born into, we can choose our friends. Friends are one of the most important relationships we can ever have.

    It is inevitable if you enter into relations with people on a regular basis...that you will grow to be like them. Place an extinguished piece of coal next to a live one, and either it will cause the other one to die out, or the live one will make the other reignite. … If you consort with someone covered in dirt, you can hardly avoid getting a little grimy yourself.” — Epictetus

    “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace). You would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell from the first. However, from the second, the bellows would either burn your clothes, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.

Shane Parrish wrote:

We unconsciously become what we are near. If you work for a jerk, sooner or later you will become one yourself. If your colleagues are selfish, sooner or later you become selfish. If you hang around someone who is unkind, you will slowly become unkind.

Few things are more important in life than avoiding the wrong people. It’s tempting to think that we’re strong enough to avoid adopting the worst of others. But that’s not how it typically works. The changes are too gradual to notice until they are too large to address.

Over a long enough timeline, bad people eventually destroy themselves. They ignore relevant data because it doesn’t agree with them, they take unwarranted risks, they end up alone, without any friends. They might achieve external success, but they lack inner calmness and clarity.

Just as you watch what you put into your body or your mind, closely look at who you spend your time with. Are they kind? Are they honest? Are they thoughtful? Are they helping you or pulling you down? Are they reliable? Are they clear thinking? In short, are they the things you want to become? If not, don’t tempt fate, cut bate.

Distance yourself from the people you don’t want to become. Cultivate people in your life that make you better. People whose default behavior is your desired behavior. If circumstances make this difficult, choose among the eminent dead.

I tried to write about friendship and its importance for a long time, but I failed. At most, I have more questions than I began with. Here are some questions I’m still pondering over.

  1. What makes a person your friend? Proximity, vulnerability, or constant communication or contact

  2. How do you become intentional about your friends?

  3. How do you choose good friends, and how do you become one?

  4. How do you avoid bad friends?

  5. How long does it take before you recognize if a person is a good or bad friend?

  6. Do your friends need to be people who can tell you hard truths or anything goes?

  7. How do you reciprocate good friendship?

  8. How deep should you trust your friend?

  9. How do I invest in my friendships?

    There is nothing that corrupts a person or rectifies him more than his companion”- Sufyan al-Thawri.

    One last point, we are always choosing friends actively or otherwise, and these friendships make or mar us. So why not be active in selecting beneficial friends?

Readings on Friendship

Thank you for reading and see you next Sunday.