The One and Only Essential Element of Friendship

By Janis Kupferer 

Happiness, happiness! It is found in great friendships according to Aristotle. And given the sage that he was, it makes sense to listen to the man. The old scholar actually had a lot to say on the subject of friendship, and he offered a simple recipe for obtaining the best of these happiness-inducing relationships.

A friendship can be built, so says Aristotle, on of any of the following three foundations:

  1. A sharing of outlooks, beliefs and values between you and your friend.

  2. The hope of some form of gain or advantage through your new friendship. (This isn’t as sinister as it sounds, think of a friendship between a older woman and a younger girl. The older woman may need help around the house, while the younger girl wants to learn and get advice. The friendship is both enjoyable, and mutually beneficial.)

  3. Just a genuine assortment of common interests, and the fact that you both enjoy spending time together. 

Sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it.

However, just to complicate things a bit and to earn his rank as a top thinker, Aristotle added a twist to his theory. None of these reasons listed above will sustain a budding friendship unless one additional ingredient is present, Aristotle said. There has to be a mutual admiration and wanting of the best for the other—at all times, always, no exceptions.

A true friend, so says the Greek Philosopher, is a wonderful cheerleader and personal support system. A good friend, he says, believes in you, encourages you, and offers guidance when requested. In addition to offering admiration and support, Aristotle also taught that when a real friendship is found, other blessings are a natural result because—again—the friend wants the best for you (“I scored concert tickets, can you join me?”).

Aristotle was pretty firm in his believe that sustaining a true friendship takes effort and a significant commitment, especially in the form of face-to-face time. He felt that in order to really know someone, you must spend time together. And to that end, due to this last requirement, nobody can really be a great friend to more than a handful of people. More than that, and you sacrifice the quality of the relationship because you have limited time to spend with each.

Profound happiness and joy, the result of sincere friendships and the reason why Aristotle believed we should all strive to have great friendships in our lives.

And should you be in need of some supportive friendships yourself, then look no further than  Thousands of women have joined for the very same reason, to expand their social circles and find some new friends.

Here is hoping that you find such a friendship!

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