What is a Friend?

I hear a lot of definitions about what a friend is and what a friend is not.  Relationships seem so fickle these days and I am forced to believe that if marriages are breaking up on a regular basis, then friendships are too!  Maybe we have not been given a clear idea of what a friend is and that is why we either choose a partner we cannot live with or we let go of a partner too soon!

That’s a whole different blog post!

I will offer my humble definition of a true friend (like there is another kind?) and I hope you will all chime in on what you think.  Cool?  Ok!

A friend is someone who brings out the best in you without trying to change you into them.  A friend is someone who gives until it hurts and then gives some more.  A friend is someone who has your back at a moments notice, but will correct you when they think you are wrong.  A friend is some one who is truly sorry when they have hurt you (oh yes, they will hurt you!) and willing to forgive when you have hurt them.  A friend is someone who has a lot in common with you and a lot to introduce you to!

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.  I feel like I could go on forever.  The point is this: There are so many bad examples of friendship out there that our definition has changed.  We do not hold friends to the same standard we used to.  Everyone is our friend.  Movies and television shows used to show strong friendships which revealed moral lessons and taught us how to treat our friends.  Today our media depicts temporary friendships or “yes man” friends who agree with anything and follow knowingly into tragic consequences.  Worse yet, many of the friends we see on screen would do each other in at the blink of an eye for a promise of…(you fill it in).  Very sad indeed.  And now (even though I love Facebook!) everyone on our FBfb account is a friend!  Yes, we all know that they are not really all our friends, but you get the point.

I teach at a public high school and I am constantly hearing about students no longer being friends because one told the other one the truth, or would not assist them in a caper, or was honest when the friend wanted them to be dishonest.  Friends understand these things! In fact they would apologize for putting you in the predicament to choose!

Please, I implore you, teach your friends and your children about real friendship.

Clean your mental tools often

Have you ever been sort of down?  I mean nothing in particular is wrong, but you just dont feel like doing anything?  You don’t feel motivated to do anything (even though you have A LOT to do).  Suddenly you look around and realize that your living space, working space and even your car are a total mess.  You decide to clean up everything and VOILA, your life is back on track!  You have cleaned your physical tools!  The same is true for cars, get a tune up.  If your computer is moving slowly you may need to defrag the hard drive.  It is so important to clean our tools so we can continue doing those things that must be done.  So why dont we do the same thing mentally?

Your mind has been called the best computer there is.  There are years of stored memories, phone numbers, passwords, secrets, emotions, songs and formulas in your mind.  If we could actually look into our minds the way we look into a room, most minds would look like the rooms of Pig Pen (obscure Charlie Brown reference) or Oscar Madison (obscure Odd Couple reference).  There would be piles of things here and there.  A song hidden under the pythagorean theorem, a memory suffocating under the book War and Peace.  It would be a mess!  This is the reason why I tell my mathematics students to write things down.  Doing things in your head can be a problem if your mind is cluttered.  Our everyday occurrances are all stored in some fashion or another.  For the most part our emotions dictate where and how they are stored.  I hate this, I love that, I am scared of this, I am confused about that, I want this, gotta get rid of that!  These are just a few of the categories we attempt to use before we end up with two major piles of good and bad!  Then because we are humans and we change our minds, our piles become an intermingled mess!

Find a way to de-clutter your brain!

Need some help?  Ok here are a few tips that worked for me and some of my acquaintances:

1. Take a break from tv- television fills our minds more than almost anything else.  Take a week or two off and see how it feels.

2. Unload emotional baggage- end that “going nowhere relationship” or get rid of that friend that isn’t really a friend.  Express your real feelings (the best way you know how) to those you care about (or don’t care about). 

3. Avoid senseless chatter, gossip and extended surface conversations – the first two should be self-explanatory.  Surface conversations are those that do not involve anything real.  For example:  Hey whats up man? Nothing much, whuzzup with you?  I’m just chillin man. (and so on!)  While there is nothing wrong with these surface conversations, there IS a problem when they are extended past a simple greeting.  When you stay on the surface you have not invested anything into the person or people you are speaking to and they have not either.  If no one is getting anything out of this, WHY ARE YOU TALKING????????  You are just dirtying up your mind’s room!

4. Exercise your mind- I know most of you are not mathematicians so you might not want to use mathematics as your exercise (although it works well!).  So if you dont want to use sudoku or some math riddles, find some puzzles that challenge you and work them every so often.  You will be amazed at the way your mind starts to work.  Be careful!  You may get a headache.  But like I tell my students: “Working out a muscle that you have not been using always hurts at first!” 

We are at a challenging time in history and we cannot afford to be left behind for not cleaning our mental tools.  So get busy with that broom & dustpan, duster, vacuum or any other tool of your choice.  Remember Cleanliness is next to Godliness, no matter what God you serve!  I can’t wait to hear what works for you!  Let me know how it goes!!!!