At age 17, Aristotle enrolled in the Platonic Academy that was founded by the Greek philosopher Plato. He was the most promising student there and it is said that he left the academy soon after Plato died.
Throughout his life thereafter, Aristotle’s theories found a lot of recognition and his work is still immensely appreciated. While the impact of some of his work can still be felt on many different subjects today, maybe the most accurate of his observations relate to friendship.
“Friendship is a help to the young, in saving them from error, just as it is to the old, with a view to be the care that they require; it is a help also to those in their prime in performing noble actions, for two going together are better able to think and act”
According to the great philosopher, there are two kinds of friendship that are more accidental than intentional in nature.
- Friendship of utility – In this relationship, the two parties are not in it for affection of one another, but more so because each party receives a benefit in exchange.
I believe that this type of friendship is required in the business or work environment. However, since it is not permanent in nature, when the benefit ends, so does this friendship. Therefore, a person who is only surrounded by this type of friendship might often be disappointed.
- Friendship of pleasure – This type of friendship stems between two people who find each other because of the enjoyment they gain through a mutual interest in something external. Here too, the friendship can end as soon as either parties’ taste or preference changes.
This type of friendship also has value but according to me it lacks potential, quality and depth. Hence, to only have such friends may also not be healthy.
What then is the most important type of friendship?
To understand this, we must first understand that friends have a huge impact on our lives. According to Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend most of the time with”
With this in mind, you should think about the people you’re spending time with in the same way you think about what you eat and how you exercise.
Sometimes friends can be like parasites. They may feed off your happiness, energy and even your tangible resources. You can put spending time with them in the same category as eating chips in front of a tv all day.
To choose the right kind of friends is therefore crucial in this day and age of virtual friendship and the right kind of friendship is what Aristotle identified as:
THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE GOOD
This kind of friendship is based on respect and mutual appreciation of each other’s virtues. Such friendship finds its fuel from the people themselves and the quality that they have. It concentrates more on the appreciation of character than on some transactional value and leads to mutual growth of the individuals.
Such a type of friendship requires investment though. It is hard to find and develop like most good things and can only be strengthened over time but if it does thrive, it can last for life. Infact very few thigs can come close to the value of such friendship.
However today I wold like to probe my readers to re-evaluate their own friends list using the three steps mentioned below:
- Think about the friends who spend the most time with – would you call them positive people? Also, think about how they interact and affect you. Do they add value to your life? Do they know and understand you? Do they make you want to be better and do better? Do they encourage and motivate you? If you answered “Yes” to those questions, you’re probably already surrounded but the right friends and if your answer was “No”, you know what to do.
- Know yourself better and filter out negativity – Remember that your vibe can attract your tribe so spend time on self-awareness and understand what your values are. This will make you self-confident and you will in turn begin to attract the right people. You will also then be able to identify the people who drain your energy because they thrive on sharing their own insecurities and negativity. Refuse it. Don’t just walk away from such unhealthy friendship – run.
- Invest in the right kind of friends – nothing comes from nothing. When you find the right friends, remember to invest time and patience in that relationship. At the end of the day, the bonds we forge with those close to us directly shapes the quality of our lives. Remember to return the friendship and cherish it. Don’t let go of such friendship easily and commit to work on it always. Keep it and treasure it for it is true when they say that :
“There is nothing more to be prized than true friendship”.