Friday, June 3, 2011

A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed. Or is it?

Who is your true friend? The one you trust enough to share your secrets with? The old childhood friend you have known for a long time? The one you hang out with the most or
feel the most comfortable with? Maybe it is the one who always comes to your assistance when times are tough? After all they say, “a friend in need is a friend indeed”.

Now, there is definitely some truth to that saying especially if we change it to “Not a friend in need, not a friend indeed”. In other words, a friend who leaves you hanging when times are tough is definitely not a true friend. But you see, most decent people I know will come to a friend's rescue when the friend is in need. Some people go out of their way to help strangers, let alone their friends. People donate money to charities or volunteer for various causes. We take pride in and enjoy acts of compassion.

So I am not convinced that helping a friend in times of need is enough qualification for receiving a “real friend” badge! (I am very easy going; aren't I?!) If you help a friend in need, it shows you are a decent, kind, and caring human being and certainly not a bad friend, but I do not believe it proves that you are a friend indeed. There is another reason I say that. In giving to a friend in need we not only feel good about our good deed, we also subconsciously feel good about the fact that we are not dealing with the same difficulty in our lives. And if we are dealing with the same pain, we feel good that we are not in it alone. I know a lot of you are going to object to that idea. I do not say it out of cynicism and for most of us it is not even a conscious feeling. But it is there. We feel lucky and grateful that we do not have the same problem or that we are not the only ones who do. So the helping comes naturally and is accompanied by a positive internal feeling. In other words, I think it is not very hard to be helpful towards a friend in need.

Think about it...When you lose a family member, most acquaintances feel for you and offer help. When you lose your job, your friends call to make sure you are OK. The same goes for other mishaps like illnesses or accidents. Now think about a different scenario...How many calls do you get when you get a promotion, come back from a fantastic vacation, land a deal, meet the love of your life, or make a lot of money? How many of the people around you really want what is best for you, regardless of their own status? How many people around you really want to see you living a life of pure bliss?

As a kid I had a friend who would get mad and stop talking to me every time my parents bought me new clothes! I kid you not! Of course that was an extreme case of jealousy and that friendship, as you have probably guessed, did not last long. But that example aside -or maybe due to that experience- I now judge my friends on how happy they are for my happiness, versus, how helpful they are when I am down. Because I believe that our true friends are those who want what is best for us. True friends hold us to high standards and help us believe we deserve a happy life by cheering us along our path every time we reach a milestone.

This kind of “true friend” test seems hard to grade, I know. How can you tell if a friend is truly happy for you? How do you tell apart fair weather friends having a good time at your party, from those who are really there to celebrate with you? And let's not forget that a lot of the people who care about us get busy with their own lives when they know we are doing OK, and are not even around at good times. How can you tell if someone is truly happy for your happiness?

I do not have a definite answer to that. All I can say is that if you look for it, you will see it. It is easier to detect than it seems at first. It can be in a look, a hug, a comment, a criticism, an argument, or a smile. What comes from the heart, lands on the heart and fortunately good intentions are hard to fake, at least for most people.

1 comment:

  1. Having recently been gifted a monumental challenge, I was blown away by the respond and rallying of my friends to be there for a "friend in need". That was 2.5 months ago. Since the initial crisis period, they got busy, and stopped inquiring as to how I was (after 2 or so weeks). So I got lonely, and a little irritated and feeling forgotten. But the moment I ask, the ones that I knew were there originally, were there again. The lesson for me is that I cannot ask people to read my mind. If I share what I want, my friends "indeed" have been there for me. And I'm a lucky girl for that. I love them all. And they love me back.