In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
– Albert Schweitzer –
Our twenties is a time of self-exploration and discovery. It’s a rite of passage and mental manifest destiny we’re all forced to come to terms with once we enter “the real world” and figure out what it means to be a contributing member of the community, or on a more global scale – a contributing member of the human race. These are the years that we change jobs, cities, significant others, interests and musical taste as frequently as we change socks. Just like there are laws of physics, there are also laws in the physics of our mentality: external change catalyzes internal change and propagates our growth as individual. We need to remember that it’s not selfish to take an adjustment period to get reacquainted with your life, it’s honest; because if you can’t take a moment’s appreciation for your newly acquired situation – was there really a point?
As we work our way back into the folds of life, back into social circles and bar scenes – you have a unique opportunity to look at things with a fresh perspective. Sometimes, that perspective pulls you out of prior relationships as it pulls you into new ones – and it’s helpful to know what qualities to keep around in a person, and what to avoid. I’ve seen (and read) a heaping dose of articles on toxic friendships lately, and just like a regular friendship – that’s a two way street, too. Whether it’s actively toxic, or passively toxic (read: enabling).For a toxic friendship to persist, both parties have to be engaging in toxic behavior. If you’re an emotional hypochondriac and sit there using those traits as a litmus test, solemnly and discretely analyzing your relationships – you’ll probably think there’s at least one person in your world that’s ‘detrimental to your existence‘. Instead of trying to find the negative, I want to look at the positive; if small minds tear each other down, great minds should build each other up. So, I’ve come up with a little list of qualities that you should both look for in others and manifest in yourself.
The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other
1. Encourage Growth
A good friend not only accepts you for who you are but challenges you to become the person you want to be (not the person that they want you to be) by allowing you to challenge the limits of your comfort zone.
2. Focus on the Positive
Life follows a stereotypical pattern of twists and turns that translate into a sine curve of highs and lows. We need to both celebrate our victories and acknowledge when things aren’t up to par – but unless you’re actively working on improving something in yourself, marinating on the negative isn’t going to get you anywhere but stuck in a negative feedback cycle. And they’re as equally detrimental to ourselves as the people around us. Humans aren’t magnets. Negative doesn’t attract positive; positive attracts positive; you’ll get back from the universe exactly what you put into it.
3. Allow You to be Wrong
As a species, we don’t have all the answers yet – so it’s silly to think that any one individual does, either. We need to allow ourselves to be wrong in the pursuit of what is right – through empirical evidence and healthy, intelligent debate with our peers.
4. Laugh With You, Not at You
First things first, your friends should have a sense of humor. If they don’t, there actually might be something wrong with them and you should probably should just stop talking to them all together. Anyways, I digress. Funny happens all the time and I’ve actually laughed out loud at myself before, but when a friend actively pursues a facet of your life for their enjoyment, it might be time to cut them loose. A good friend can find humor in the moment, but knows how to let it go and not project the humor onto you.
5. Emotionally Supportive
When life turns sour, it helps having people around that bring over vodka when all you have are lemons. But, depending on the situation – some friends might become Negative Nancy and have nothing nice to say, a few will turn the conversation to their life and their problems (which of course, still matter – but this isn’t the time or place for it) and others will simply dip out of your life. The positive influences in your life will find a way to give – whether its their ear, a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on and silence is golden, especially when someone is at their most vulnerable.
6. Give Space When Necessary
When Galileo discovered that there was a flaw in the geocentric model, there was an uproar. Sometimes, when people come to the realization that the world is about more than just them, they react the same way. Everyone has a personal universe to deal with that we simply can’t know everything about.it. We have to learn to respect boundaries and allow the people in our lives to cultivate their own worlds.
7. Brainstorm Solutions
One of the greatest things about having a group of peers is that you get to constantly crowdsource solutions. Is your boss being too hard on you? How do you train for a marathon? Should you move to a new city? These are all things we deal with in our life and we should feel confident that we can reach out to the people in our lives in search of our own answers. A good friend will engage you and play devil’s advocate to get down to the root of your question.
8. Constructive Criticism
It’s okay to have an standpoint on a person, and often there’s a time and place to voice it – but unless you can find a proactive way to express it, you should probably keep it to yourself. If you’re forming a negative opinion on someone’s life, make sure it’s not a mirror that you’re holding to your own. Instead, take a step back from the friendship and really examine what’s bothering you.
9. Value Time
Time is valuable, and other people’s time – doubly so. A good friend understands that everyone has their own time table and own rate of life, we simply don’t all move at the same pace in life. So, when it comes to hanging out and getting together – they’ll let you know when they’re running late and are conscious that your time matters, too.
10. Inspire Greatness
We’re all made of stardust, and I truly believe that within each of us – there’s something amazing. When a beautiful soul meets another, they burn brighter together – just like when two candles meet. They listen to your ambitions, goals and lofty visions. Instead of diminishing you, or them, they’ll encourage you to chase down your dreams and convert them to reality.
I hope you guys all have friends in your life like this, because I know I do.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
– C.S. Lewis –