Life is all about friends and friendships. Friendship Day may be formally celebrated on one day every year, but the value of friends is understood throughout the year.
Right from school days to the day we die, we will need friends in one form or the other. Friends are among the basic requirements of life. Without friends, our life will be boring, individualistic and even selfish. But if we have friends, we can consider ourselves as one of the luckiest people on the earth.
Swami Chinmayananda used to say, “Money can never make you rich, friends do….”. So true, that having good friends makes you rich from inside and outside.
Even though we may have a lot of friends, the quality of our friendships matters. Having a lot of friends and followers on social media does not mean you have quality friends. That is just a number. It is about popularity. But true friendship is about the ability to stand by the other through thick and thin.
Chanakya also gives a lot of importance to friends (mitras) in his Arthashastra. It is an important element to make a kingdom strong. The allies of the kingdom give them the superior advantage over enemies as well. There are many references about good friends quoted by Chanakya for leaders.
Let us take one such idea to understand his thoughts,
“He should despise none, (but) should listen to the opinion of everyone. A wise man should make use of the sensible words of even a child”
There will be many kinds of friends. Some would seem boring and introvert. Some would be loud. Some always socialising and organising events. Some would have different hobbies and interests. While some will be available only now and then.
But that is what actually makes friends and friendships so lively. Yes, we all have our list of best friends, who have common interests. But others are also required in our life.
Imagine having the same food everyday. Life would be so boring. In the same way, even though we have our close and dependable friends, we should be open to friend-ship of various kinds. See the above sutra where Chanakya is guiding us to benefit from different kinds of friends.
Be open to everyone who comes into your life. Life is full of changes and every change is an opportunity to learn and grow. So, if you have changed from one school to another. Or changed your workplace or shifted to a new city or country, you will come across new people.
Do not be closed-minded. Do not reject anyone. Of course, you should be able to judge people over a period of time to make sure you do not get harmed. Yet, being open-minded helps you to learn many new perspectives and dimensions of life.
Every person has different experiences and if you are a good learner, you can have a lot of fun by meeting different kinds of people from different cultures and backgrounds.
This is the first quality of any person who wants to be friendly and also make a lot of friends. ‘Listening’ is not just hearing. It is a very deep and sensitive activity. When you can feel what the other person is going through, then only you are truly listening to them.
Chanakya is asking us to ‘listen to all’. If you put your efforts and practice listening as a quality, you will be loved by all. You will also develop empathy towards others.
Even in professional lives that is one quality that will make you successful. Friendship is all about ‘listening’ and ‘understanding’ the other person.
When you listen to others, you may get a breakthrough idea that can be very trans-formative. Even a child can give you a new dimension that you must have missed.
There was a person, who had lost his source of income during the pandemic. But, he was a great listener. He would go and listen to others with an open mind for suggestions for a new career.
One of his friends told him about a new opportunity and sud-denly he got a bigger and better income than the previous job. It was in a new field, where he had no experience. Yet, being open-minded made him think different and take a new route towards success.
“A good friend brings out the best in you. But, if you believe in friendship, you can take the best from everyone.”
(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a best selling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his Twitter @rchanakyapillai)
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