Everyone has a friend somewhere no matter how close or distant they are. But how many of us really know, let alone do, what it takes to be a good friend? Some of us may not even know who a friend is.
Are they someone we know only so we can get free art, free food and mooch things off of? Are they the people we can tell our deepest secrets too? What about the person you only talk with to rant about everything to get things off your chest? Are they someone you turn to when things get tough and they're still there? Are they the watchers here and 'friends' you have on Facebook or do they have to be real live connections?
Author Robert Putman said "Happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one's social connections." If you're not happy it's probably because your relationships are struggling in more than one area. So why not take a little time to learn more about real friendship and how to be a better friend?
Another quote is from C.S Lewis and with it he described the changes in the value of friendships saying, "To the ancients, friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. In the modern world, in comparison, ignores it
It is something quite marginal; not a main course in life's banquet; a diversion something that fills up the chinks of one's time." If this is how the western world is then its future is dismal and lonely at best.
Now that you grasp the fact that happiness comes from friendships and the world right now lacks them leading to unhappiness then maybe it's time for a short lesson in being a real friend. There are 8 principles of friendship, from author and leadership guru Orrin Woodward's book "Resolved: 13 resolutions for life", that if applied will make everything start to get much better.1) True friends form around shared insights, interest or tastes enjoying the common bond uniting them.
The friendship C.S Lewis and JRR Tolkien was probably one of the most productive and world changing things to hit the world. Because of Lewis's encouragement Tolkien didn't give up on writing the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings series like his very poor ego and self-image wanted him to. If Tolkien hadn't converted Lewis to Christianity none of his books would exist as the classics of our age.
If they hadn't become friends on the same basic love of reading, writing and learning we wouldn't have Narnia or Hobbits or any of that. They started out being friends over a few simple common interests. Friendship starts with that "Wow you do that too? I thought I was the only one!" moments and finding things that connect you to others through shared interests.2) True friends accept one another, loving each other despite of their human imperfections.
There's a favorite story of mine that illustrates this point perfectly."Back in Ancient China there was a water bearer who had two pots. One was perfect and whole, the other had a crack in it. Every day he filled his pots by the stream but on the way home the cracked pot leaked out half his load and the water bearer only got 1 ½ loads of water home.
This went on for 2 years with the cracked pot only getting half his load to the house and he felt ashamed. One day he spoke up. "I'm so ashamed of myself! You do all that hard work and only get half the water for your effort because I'm broken and useless. I'm so sorry for being a failure. " he said sadly.
The water bearer looked at him and replied, "Did you not notice that there are flowers only on your side of the path home? I've always known about your imperfection so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. You water them every day and thanks to you I have beautiful flowers to bring home for my wife and kids to enjoy."
3) True friends approve of one another, protecting each other's weaknesses while enhancing each other's strengths.
This is the part where you must learn to only speak good of people behind their backs. You have to learn to cut gossip short if someone is talking ill about your friends. Do not let them be known more for their weakness, instead praise them for their strengths whether they are present or not. This will make your life simpler, will make them happier and you'll feel good about yourself as well.
Being a true friend means you love people where they're at. They don't have your strengths and you don't have theirs. Everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses and one needs to find the good in people and praise them for it. True friends do this and if you lead by example enough it'll come back to you eventually in the form of people doing this for you when you're not around. 4) True Friends Appreciate one Another, encouraging, serving and believe in one another's gifts and talents.
"A friend is someone who knows you as you are, understands where you've been, accepts who you' have become and still gently invites you to grow" unknown.
Appreciation is the best of the three A's for sure. Now that you've accepted them for who they are and approved of their place in life now it's time to make them feel like a million bucks. Appreciation is basically letting them know how unique and special they are to you and letting them know they're not just another face in the crowd, they're something special.
You may want to critique that new art piece they posted with the horribly disproportionate face but maybe the better choice is to tell them what they did right instead. They will not only feel better and be more confident in their art but they also probably already know what they're doing wrong and don't need told by you. If you just always appreciate their good skills, gently ignore the bad and encourage them they will become better faster just because of the belief they feel you have in them. Why not boost their self-confidence before they're strong enough to boost their own?5) True friends listen with empathy, learning the hopes, dreams, fears and struggles of each other.
Right now as you read this are you 100% focused on reading or are there other thoughts going through your head? When you listen to some one speak are you focusing word for word on what they're saying or are you just waiting to get your two cents in and not really paying attention? True friends really listen. This means saving your story topping tale for later and really listening to what they say.
Abraham Lincoln had a friend and he called him to Washington during the civil war. He spent the whole day talking to the friend, telling him his thoughts, problems, pains and fears. He read letters from others, talked through issues and otherwise just chatted with him. The friend went home at the end of the day and Abraham Lincoln felt better just on the basic fact his friend just listened all day. He had someone to talk to and it made everything better.
You need to be willing to really listen to people when they're speaking to you. When some one's talking it's not the time to find a story that's bigger and better than their problem because they won't feel like you care. Empathy is just like sympathy except sympathy is when you've suffered the exact same problem as them. Empathy is putting yourself in their shoes to see how they're feeling so you can comfort them the best.
The best part is when you truly listen to people you will learn all sorts of fantastical things. I have yet to meet a person that I haven't learned something from them. There is something to learn from everyone even the 2 year old next door jabbering away. It's exciting to listen and has great benefits for you with the best one being a better friendship.6) True friends celebrate one Another's Success, proud of each other's accomplishments without a hint of envy.
When is the last time you celebrated someone else's achievements? Like really celebrated? Was it your sibling's concert or recital when they did well and were given an award? Did you stand there and smile and cheer and feel genuinely happy for them or did you huddle in the corner jealously? You need to be happy for your friends when they achieve things, always celebrating them in everything they do and never being jealous of them.
This is probably the hardest step because it's easy to get jealous when someone close gets huge recognition that you don't. Years down the road if you're friends famous and you're not it won't matter. If you were there with them cheering them on every step of the way to the point you still get to hang with them
guess what? You get to hang out with a famous person and share those perks because you didn't get jealous and you were their biggest cheerleader.
Make sure you're actively celebrating your friend's achievements. Always try to be the first to congratulate them for getting a feature, winning a contest, getting a Daily deviation, receiving an award, etc. That friend will think more of you than anyone else if you're always genuinely happy for them and congratulating them in good spirits.7) True friends are trustworthy, maintaining all confidences shared with unimpeachable honor and self-respect, knowing that gossip separates the best of friends.
If there is no trust then what is the friendship other than a cold acquaintance? Trust opens the heart making relationships deeper and stronger. Author John Maxwell wrote "False friends are like shadows keeping close to us while we walk into the sunshine but leaving us when we cross into shade but real friends stick with us when trouble comes."
Can you trust your friends to be there for you when you're ill, down, in trouble or stuck? Better yet: can they count on you? If you want friends who are there for you through thick and thin then you need to be that kind of friend as well.
It's a pet peeve of mine that when someone posts a journal saying they're having a hard time, please spread the word to help one or two people stop by and do so. But when they post up a journal offering free art and gifts suddenly they have 30 active watchers there to take advantage of them. What do you think doing that does for their self-confidence, self-worth and security in friends?8) True friends are loyal, respecting and defending one another's character, reputation and motives as far as truth allows them while addressing any issues or concerns between them promptly and privately , ensuring misunderstandings never fester.
I think gossip goes here a little better than in 7. As I stated before if you ever hear someone gossiping about someone you need to be the person to jump in and stop if, especially if it's a friend or someone you know. Think back to the time you listened to negative gossip about someone you hadn't met yet. Was the first thing you thought of when you met them that negative thing you heard weather it was true or not?
Gossip tears friends, families, towns, communities and countries apart. Real leaders and friends stop gossip and instead spread good things about people around; changing the subject to say a lot about the amazing positive qualities that person has instead.
This leads into the part about conflict resolution because gossip is the quickest poison in the wound of a disagreement. A fight is like a flame. If resolved quickly it goes out before it causes any damage. If ignored it festers and grows into a raging wild fire until the damage is not repairable and the friendship is lost. While conflict resolution on its own is a whole article in and of itself, know that you need to take a few quick steps to fix a problem properly.
First is meeting with them in person, never by an email or text or note. Tell them that you value their friendship very much and that's why you're meeting with them to resolve this. Let them speak first and let you know their side and don't try to butt in with your view or opinion. Now that you understand where they're coming from seek to be understood by very calmly and kindly explaining your view.
Next you need to own up to what you did wrong in the conflict and take as much blame as is truthful and apologize and seek an agreement so that the issue is fully resolved. Not only will you apologizing first and letting them talk off their steam take out all reason for snapping, backlash or bad attitude but it will make the other person see how much you really care about them and will in the long run strengthen the relationship. Final list of summarizing tips
Now that you have some basic principles of friendship in general life and a little bit on dA here is a quick list of pointers and tips that relate and sum up these bigger points.1.
Go around dA and find people that like to draw the same things you do. Join groups, get out there and find people with common interests and that way you can make more friends starting with basic shared interests.2.
Remember to love your friends where they are at. Take part in spread the love challenges and go in and leave comments on people's profiles as to why you love them so much and affirm their strengths every now and then.3.
Try for a month only praising people's good work in their art and never saying what's wrong. See if their overall mood, skills and confidence goes up over you always criticizing them.4.
When some one's sad, upset, hurting or in trouble be there for them. Let them rant to you and listen to their problems and offer simple encouragement rather than advice.5.
Once in a while make spontaneous gift art for people you admire or that have meant a lot to you over the years.6.
If you receive gift art, a free commission or any other form of art love make sure to comment, say thank you and favorite it no matter how busy you are. That person just spent effort trying to make something for you, by ignoring it, not favoriting and not commenting you just crushed their spirits and they will most likely never want to make something for you again. Same with commissions you buy, make sure to go comment on the deviations page, not just in notes or private chat.7.
Be the first person to congratulate your friends or someone you admire every time they win something or are recognized. Be sure it's always in good spirits, never be jealous.8.
Never post friend's personal problems or the problems you have with someone in your journal. Even if you think no one will know who it is even if names are omitted people will assume it's someone they know and they'll look at people around them weirdly. Or even worse they'll assume it's them you're talking about and take offense and you'll have more hurt feelings and problems on your hands than help.9.
Never ever spread gossip, join in flaming, or group attacking people. Be sure to read both sides of a story before just assuming the person you watch is right. They're biased against that person and want you to be too so make sure you're using your brain when it comes to dArama and such.10.
Don't forget your real life friends. While you might want to hang out with people online only real friendship comes from physical touch, physical talking and handing physical gifts. Find ways to be connected the strongest with the real life people you see often.11.
If you want to have lots of active and nice watchers
be one. Watch people who watch you, talk with them, comment on their art, show them you care. It'll come back to you eventually.12.
Read this article often if you need reminded of friendship principles and try to apply them in your life and see if things get better.Final words
True friendship is a lost art in this 'ME' generation of today. Hopefully all these principles will help you have better relationships with your parents, siblings, friends, co-workers and significant others in your life. If you can improve your relationships you can improve your happiness and who doesn't want to be happier and more secure? These tips can also be applied to your online life as a watcher, follower, etc. Even if you're not friends why not try to become one with them and apply these to being a phenomenal watcher? It'll gain you lots of brownie points, new friends and you'll feel more amazing about yourself.
Remember though that reading is not enough, it's applying the information that's important. You can know how to be a good friend, a good watcher etc but if you never actually act on that knowledge it's the same as not knowing at all. Some great books on this subject are How to Win Friends and Influence people By Dale Carnegie and Resolved: 13 resolutions for life by Orrin Woodward if you're looking for deeper reading and understanding.
Thank you so much for checking this article out and please let me know if any of this helps you in some way or another to have a better life, happier relationships, improved quality time on deviant art and other things like that. Go out there and remember to Accept, Approve and Appreciate people as you go and be the best friend you can be so you'll attract a higher quality of people to be your friends in the end. Don't forget to be awesome!