Wholesome Friendship

True friendship is a rare gift and requires patience, understanding, love and time to cultivate it

FriendsValentine's Day may be commemorated by lovers all over the world, but the occasion is increasingly becoming universal in the subject of love. Today, the spirit of Valentine is evoked in the celebration of all relationships that matter in one's world, the foremost of which is friendship. Here's a guide to the myriad shades of friendship that you'll need to usher into your world.

In today's mechanical mode of life, friendship has become yet another activity in a whirlwind social calendar. We may make friends out of convenience [mostly in the workplace where most of our time is spent] or because it is expected of us. These relationships are forced and uneasy. Often, you may go through the motions [watching movies with your friends or going out for dinner], just for the sake of keeping up appearances or perhaps because you don't want to seem rude or impolite. True friendship, however, is a rare gift. It requires patience, understanding, love and time to cultivate.

This is the best time of the year to evaluate all your relationships and weed out the ones that have not given you any emotional satisfaction over the years. Also keep in mind that just as you can't get all your vitamins from a single food source, friendship too is diverse and multi-hued. One friend alone cannot hope to provide all the emotional support that you may need. Every friend should have a unique dimension or value that he/she provides in your life. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, friendship too should fall into place. See if you can identify the friends who play these crucial roles:

  • The Protector: This is a person who has always been your guardian angel. The protector cherishes you and is quick to forgive and forget misgivings. Whenever you may need direction or advice, he/she is around to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand and some much needed moral support. An excellent friend to have, the protector will act as a buffer between you and a sometimes harsh world. He/she could be an older sibling, a much cherished uncle, a friend who has lived next door and whom you've known for years. The protector is someone who grows up with you and who often knows you.
  • The Mentor: The mentor is almost always an older person, someone whom you look up to and admire. In some cases, it could be an elder sibling who has achieved great success or a teacher who has made an impression on you at a tender age. The mentor is a fair and just guide; someone whose care and affection for you has struck deep roots. This friendship is crucial because the mentor not only plays the role of a guiding light, but he or she will not be afraid of treating you to some much-required plain-speaking if ever you go astray.
  • The Adventurer: The adventurer is an exciting friend to have. He or she need not necessarily force you to climb mountains or charter through unknown seas, but will definitely urge you to try new things in life that you may have never considered. The adventurer always lives life king-size and their sheer positive thinking and appetite for dynamic change will ensure that every moment you spend with them is anything but dull. They're unique in the way they enjoy the world, so this kind of friend can whet your enthusiasm for life in all its joyful shades. You'll find yourself trying new things [read bungee jumping, eat jello with a fork, even modern art and parachuting], as this friendship opens up a world with wider horizons for you to explore.
  • Mirror Image: You're opposites in every sense of the word — she/he loves yoga, soft classical music, is sensitive and bookish. You enjoy brisk aerobics, loud western rap, you're outgoing and would rather see the film than buy the book. Yet, together, you're a dynamic team that can get along like a house on fire! Friends who are our foils or opposites in every way are sure to add an interesting dimension to our personalities. Perhaps that's why opposites attract. Friends aren't Siamese twins and it's alright to be different - the shades of your personality will be sure to complement rather than rub one another the wrong way. The only thing you need in this kind of relationship is an open mind.
  • The Protege: This person thinks you're wonderful and is always open-eyed with admiration for all that you've managed to do. Imitation, they say, is the best form of flattery. The protege is always trying to emulate you and her regard for you runs deep. Though this relationship can be a bit embarrassing at times [especially if you are uncomfortable with being put on a pedestal and worshipped!], it can be very good for your ego. The protege will also remind you of your responsibility. You'll find that you'll work extra hard to keep that look of awe intact in his/her eyes. The protege could be anyone you take under your wing and not necessarily a younger person or sibling either.
  • The Soother: You're angry with the world, frustrated with your job, irritated with your mother and annoyed with the household help. Yes, you're having 'one of those days' in which nothing seems to be going right at all! Nothing that is, until you meet the soother. The minute you see him/her, you feel like unburdening yourself and in minutes, your anger and venom have dissipated. The soother can take the storm out of your attitude. It may not be so much as what they say, but how they say it. A gentle nod of the head, an understanding smile, a sympathetic look; all this comes so naturally to them. The soother could be your best friend, your confidant[e], your spouse, your mother or sister - the person whose face comes first to your mind at the hint of trouble. Everyone needs a soothing influence in their lives. They are the world's best de-stressors.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that maintaining appropriate friendships can provide relief from life's frustrations, greater happiness and even enhance your lifespan. So take a positive step towards your health today by cultivating meaningful friendship.

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Kamala Thiagarajan
Kamala Thiagarajan is a Madurai-based journalist. Her writing interests encompass a host of genres including travel, health, entertainment and lifestyle. She is a full-time freelance journalist who works from her home in Madurai, South India. With ten years of experience in journalism, she has over four hundred articles in print in leading magazines across the globe. Her writing spans a variety of travel, health, entertainment and lifestyle features read by a diverse audience in over seven count

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