Importance of friends in life.

Yesterday I was having lunch with my mentor in office and somehow our discussion veered towards the importance of friends in life. Friendship to me is one of the grandest relationships a person can have in life. But finding friends in today’s world that is heavily influenced by materialism and that views each relation as a transaction, is like finding a black cat in a coal cellar. According to research by a leading institution, in a lifetime, a person makes 396 friends, but only one in 12 (33) stand the test of time. Out of 33, only 6 are considered close friends and rest 27 are social friends or drinking buddies.

A friend acts as antidote to the poison of stress, and brings longevity and positive vibrations in your life. He will always support you mentally, morally, emotionally, physically or even financially. His harsh words or actions, at times may seem unwelcome, but those would be in keeping your well-being uppermost. They don’t have any ulterior motives or come with strings attached to their friendship. Such people are irreplaceable in life and will be a big loss to lose them.

So, is there a sweet spot in our lives when true friends come in our life? What I have observed is that, with age, one’s hit rate of finding or making friends keeps on decreasing. Most of my close friends are the ones from my undergraduate days or earlier. It is somehow tough to find friends in your work place or build new bonds once you are over 22-23 years old. As you age, friendship starts taking a back seat to other priorities like taking care of spouse, children or aging parents. Making friends early in life is advantageous: you get more time and opportunities to test, learn and nurture your friendship. Over a period of time your bond becomes so strong that you start connecting with each other at subconscious level, turning it into divine friendship. Many spiritual saints say that just like your past life’s karmas influence your present life, similarly if you had shared a strong bond with someone in your previous life, the cosmos law works in such a way that the probability of you meeting that same person in present incarnation increases manifold. I am sure you all must have experienced that sometimes you get positive vibes, are magnetically drawn or quickly build a bond with a stranger for no apparent reason. This may be because you were somehow deeply related to that person in previous incarnations and life has given you another opportunity to make the bond stronger.

In an effort to secure our future and old age, we spend most of our time slogging in office and building our career that we hardly socialize and lose out on the wonderful opportunity to make friends. Even I have been a part of this mentality. Just as we invest our resources in building our career, we need to invest our time in nurturing friendships. It is an art which even big world leaders or corporate honchos sometimes fail to master. Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi recently said,”… if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure.” Her husband Raj, says,”…Your list is PepsiCo, PepsiCo, PepsiCo, our two kids, your mom, and then at the bottom of the list is me.” I am not passing any judgment here on her life decisions. I consider her one of the most charismatic and inspirational leaders currently and I admire her for her honest answers, but I would never want my personal life that way. Though this example is not related to friendship, but the learnings can definitely be applied. What we treasure in life – money/career or friends, it is a question with no right and wrong answer. But when I am old, I would prefer having a modest house and spending time with my best buddies rather than living all alone in a lavish bungalow built after years of investment in my career and surrounded by medical equipments.

I was once watching an interview of Sharukh Khan, the superstar of Bollywood. It was his birthday and a journalist said to him, “Congratulations Mr. Sharukh on your birthday! What message do you have for your fans“. He replied, “… never count your age in years… count your age by friends you have in life…”

Let’s have that attitude.

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