Someone said on TV one day that the 4 people closest to you are together a bigger influence on your life and future than anything else. The Friendship 4. These friendships are “life defining” and changing them will dramatically change the course of your future. Cue serious music. I’ve heard poeple talk about quality friendship/relationship and quality time. But no, I’m talking about the benefits of quantity friendship and quantity time.

Keep your friends few and well chosen, the antisocial advisers suggest. And there’s a good reason they advise few. We’ve become polar, dualistic thinkers. Fat or thin. Success or loser. Conservative or progressive/liberal. Inner city or suburb. This or that. It’s a way of thinking. Quality or quantity.

Because you can’t have quantity AND quality can you? You can’t eat 3 square meals a day and have every single meal be high quality, delicious, nutritious… but I digress. I think polar thinking fails us when it comes to things that matter. Quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive.

Remember I’m trying to say, have as many friends as you can, and make them all as quality as you can.

The problem with lots of quality anything is that quality takes time, and lots of quality takes, well, lots of time, right? And in the 21st century no one has enough time. So we use quality as this magical hack to reduce the quantity needed. “Hey husbands, you don’t need to spend lots of time with your wives to keep them happy. Just spend short bouts of *quality* time.” Mhm, with a liberal sprinkling of magic dust…

“Come on, modern, scientific athlete, no need to train for hours and hours. Here’s the new data-driven approach. Very little time but extremely high quality training.” Of course.

And you don’t need lots of friends. Have a million acquaintances but few friends. Like this is a virtue.

OK but seriously…

An image of friendship from the internet

Image of friendship from the internet. Can’t you feel the friend-vibrations?

Seriously there are reasons we’re wary of the idea of many friends. They’ve become myths of our culture
⦁    Those closest to you will betray you
⦁    It’s hard to find people who are real
⦁    It takes a really long time to get to know people
⦁    Very few will stick with you through the hard times

There are several advantages of having friends, and they make it clear why many friends are better than few.
1.    Every friend you have is a doorway to new opportunities
2.    Every friend you have is a potential solution to a specific future problem (think insurance, think investment)
3.    Friends are reservoirs of knowledge outside your sphere
4.    A friend can inspire you in a direction you’d never look or go on your own
5.    Friends are portals to new experiences if you’re willing to be a little adventurous
6.    Let’s get spiritual, and see every individual as a wound up spring unwinding towards destiny. A charged up battery powering a life towards it’s designed target, its role, its primary act of authenticity (what? we’re being spiritual). When you connect with an individual in friendship you start participating in the energy of her destiny and her in yours. You become a partner in her destiny-mission. Her energy joins yours, strengthening it. Synergy occurs
7.    A new friend welcomes you into the sphere of influence of his unique gifts and talents. Priceless resources come to you packaged in every friend, even if she knows nothing about the treasures she carries

And these are just a few pivotal advantages of every friendship you have. I’m sure you can add another 5 unique benefits to this list. And each friend you have carries with her or him these benefits.

Building friendship: preliminaries

Definition: What do we mean when we say ‘friend’?

Google tells me that Friend means

“a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.”

Don’t get it twisted though…”mutual affection” just means liking each other.

But now in the age of Facebook…

Friend and like are words undergoing a change. Friend is a verb now. And a like is now a unit of measurement, ha ha. We’ve seen stuff that’s 30k likes popular. Like 30k feet high. So like, friend and the lexicon of relationship is in transition.

So how do we build friendship?

Time and attention are the currency. Spend time. Pay attention. If you see or otherwise come across someone you like, make deliberate efforts to spend some time with them (yes, even digitally) and when you do, pay attention to them. Learn who they are and what they like. And hate. And through dialogue you’ll give them a chance to learn what you’re about. Through time and attention, and respect, you show that you value someone. And once you value your new friend, all the benefits of friendship are unlocked.

(Of course during this process, you’ll find people you fundamentally dislike. They embody opposite values. Fine, stop giving them time and attention and spend it on other people. Though if you can get over the obstacles, differences  of viewpoint just make friendships more valuable. But that’s hard work and I don’t want to talk about it. I’m tired already.)

Where will I find the time?

Look through your daily routine. Weekly routine. You’ll need about 5 – 20 minutes a day probably to invest in building new friendships. If you can dedicate about that much to the friendship pursuit, you have enough time.

Finding candidates, you see, is a thing you do when you’re out and about, or on the digital plane surfing the attention currents.

Sometimes they fall into your lap—you meet them through other friends and acquaintances. Sometimes life throws them at you in ways where you just have to catch. In other words finding them may not take any extra time at all.
Building the relationship (steps 2 through 7 below) takes a length of time (weeks, months…)—but paradoxically, less than 20 minutes a day. Though sometimes it happens instantly.

How to cook yourself a great tasting friendship

A 7 step recipe for cooking friendships that taste great, from scratch (from step 4 works great for existing relationships too).

  1. Keep your eyes open every day for notable individuals, people who catch your attention and capture your admiration for one reason or another
  2. When you see one, assess quickly if there’s any possible entry into their acquaintance, now or in the future. If no opportunity presents itself, file the impressive person in your memory so you’ll recognize him again
  3. If you have a chance—and attendant courage—introduce yourself or get introduced to your future-friend-target. Take a moment to ask about something that catches your interest about the person. A unique name. An unusual voice. Item of clothing. Accent. Anything that shows your interest and attention, and allows your new friend to give you further information about herself (no these are not pick up tricks)
    If a fledgling rapport builds, find out if she or he is on your social network of choice, and if you can connect further. (Sometimes this is after a few chance meetings or meetings with whoever introduced you…)
  4. Picture this new person in your mind as a fresh package of opportunities and adventures that you need to treat with wonder and awe. When you get opportuinities to communicate, ask questions, share opinions. Listen. Speak. It’s all time and attention, spending and paying, at this point
  5. Try and find out and remember her birthday. (Note it down in your phone calendar so you’ll be reminded.) On the day, send a message, or some other appropriate commemoration. Do this always, this is magic (yes, friendships are multi-year projects, oh impatient padawan)
  6. Invest in your friendship beyond spending time. Gifts can be a good way to help the connection along. Sometimes it’s just the effort to share something your friend might find useful or interesting. Pass along valuable information based on what you know about her interests, pursuits or whatever. You get the picture.
  7. Here and there if appropriate, invite your friend to coffee, or some social gathering you’re holding, or an event you think they might enjoy—yes, ask them to bring their significant other—this is not a recipe for extra-marital affairs and such things. (That’s Ashley Madison and no, this is not an endorsement.) Don’t be creepy, but look for opportunities to engage with your new friend, and especially do the paying attention thing. That’s how you mine the treasures locked in each new person you befriend (or who befriends you)

Challenges and opportunities

I’m an antisocial guy so maybe I shouldn’t be writing this in the first place. I spend inordinate amounts of time alone. But that said, when a great opportunity or success comes my way, I experience it alone more often than not. When I seize the day, I’m usually alone also.

Building friendships creates a protection against going through life’s ups and downs alone. Introverts will boast that this is their character. They’re built to enjoy being alone they say. But in the process they deprive themselves of the riches of human companionship. Riches available to anyone who’ll put out even a feeble hand and grab them. The few times I’ve taken advantage of an opportunity with friends I’ve enjoyed both the challenges and joys much more.

This isn’t safety in numbers, it’s the feeling that you’re not alone. The plural lifestyle. The sharing of resources, even if it’s just emotional resources.

When someone close passes away, who tries to go through that alone? This might be just my opinion, but it’s better to go through hard times with people you like. Good times too, and maybe even more so.

And the more friends, the better it is.

Bla blah blah. Let me bring this to a close.

Who you are is shaped by your friends

Show me your 5 closest friends and I’ll show you who you are. You’ve heard something along those lines said before right? Welllll, I think your 5 greatest inspirations, or your 5 role models/top influencers might be a closer picture of who you are. But unquestionably, your friends are a choice not just of who you spend time with. They’re a choice of what you will be.

Not even peer pressure. Just a kind of absorbing or sharing of characteristics. Hang around a brawler, and you’re more likely to get into fights even when you’re alone. Hang around a pick-up artist and you’ll start hitting on people you find attractive (I think). Hang around prudish and stupid people and you’ll soon notice you’re prudishness… actually you won’t notice because you’ll be more stupid.

So…

So if you find someone and admire her characteristics, try and get close to her. Try and make a friend. It’s  a great hack to absorb the good characteristics of others that you wish you had. OK then.

And of course, a video >

Good day and boa sorte