What is true friendship? C.S. Lewis famously claimed that “like philosophy, like art…friendship has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” Kalil Gibran has written “Your friend is your needs answered. He is your friend which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.”
Yet in our modern world of Facebook, pressures of professional networking and the general commodification of the word ‘friend’, we felt it was time to revisit this often un-asked question — What is a true friend? What role do friends play in our lives? Do we have levels of friendship? How should we ‘be’ with our friends?
In this episode:
* definitions of friendship from Stoic philosophers down to Emerson & C.S. Lewis
* the role of trust and judgement in friendship
* social media & the commodification of the word ‘friend’
* levels, taxonomies and kinds of friendship
* psychological studies on the necessary elements of friendship
* can men and women ever really be friends?
Although there are a lot of psychological studies on friendship — why people become friends (proximity, similarity, reciprocity) and how they stay friends (self-disclosure, interaction, being positive, supportiveness) — for me the most interesting aspect of friendship is about trust.
Stoic philosopher Seneca advised — “When friendship is settled, you must trust. Before friendship is formed, you must pass judgement.”
In other words, we should be decerning about who we accept into our inner circle of true friends. We should make sure, for example that they are reliable, have our best interests at heart, will support us and bring us happiness. However, when we have accepted these things to be true, and we love someone as a true friend, we must stop judgement and instead trust their intentions implicitly.
We have all heard the quote that friends are for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime. But what determines whether we remain friends with someone? And why do we become close with certain friends almost immediately while other friends remain at a distance despite the many years we’ve known them?
Clay’s analogy is of a window opening gradually as we find things in common with our friends and learn whether we can trust them.
But others have given their own conceptions of the ‘levels of friendship’ including Aristotle who divided friendship into three types — enjoyment (activity friends), advantage (work friends), and character (close friends). In an article in Brainpickings, Maria Popova drew an ‘taxonomy of friendship’ with concentric circles moving from Acquaintances, to People I Know and Like, to Kindred Spirits, to Friends.
And there is also Johari’s window, a tool used by Clay during coaching sessions which examines our levels of self-awareness and mutual-understanding. In terms of friendship, Johari’s window can reveal how there are certain things we know about ourselves and certain things that are unknown. Similarly others may know certain things about us while be unaware of others.
Friends however, are those special people that might know things about us that remain hidden even from ourselves.
Or perhaps, our friends create the very vast and multiple realms we find ourselves inhabiting. As Anais Nin so beautifully put it, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
…and so the Havana Cafe Sessions Podcast was born…