Three Types of Friend
Having friends is an important part of life. Without friends we are alone, and when we are alone we go crazy. Some friends are good, other friends are bad, but all the friends you make in your life will contribute to your overall happiness. Some friends you can be happy with. Other friends are friends you can be happy for. And then there are the friends who make you happy, in spite of their behavior.
Most people think of a friend as someone to be happy with. We share good things with our friends, from delicious food to awesome adventures. When we triumph, the first people we tell are our friends. When we fail, we also tell our friends. Or, we should. Everything shared is made better, even things that are bad.
If you fail and tell no one, then you have just failed. If you fail and tell your friends, you might receive consolation. When you keep sad things to yourself you are sad, but when you share sadness with your friend, you might hear a joke. Sadness loses its power when there are friends around to be happy with.
But what if you don’t have any friends around when you are sad? All of your friends are out having fun, and achieving greatness. They have left you behind in pursuit of their own dreams. There is a strong temptation to be resentful of friends who aren’t there, but this doesn’t help anyone. When you can’t be happy with your friends, you can still be happy for them.
Just like parents sometimes live through their children, you can live vicariously through your friends. If you are a high school dropout, and your friend just got their PhD, then share in their glory. Even if you haven’t seen them in years because they were off at fancy medical school, you can still say you know a doctor.
To be clear, sharing in glory is not the same thing as sharing credit. Your friend worked hard for that degree. You are lazy. But at least you can say you are friends with someone who works hard. It won’t make you any less lazy, but being genuinely happy for your friends will make you happy, too.
There are friends to be happy with, and friends to be happy for, and then there is the third type of friend: the friend to be happy in spite of. When asked why you are friends with these people, you may struggle to find a satisfying answer. Maybe you have just always been friends with them. Maybe they are more like rivals than friends.
This is the friend you take hiking, and they whine and complain the whole time. It is very annoying, but sometimes they are funny when they whine. They are unprepared and break the gear they borrow, but you invited them along anyway, because they are your friend. Their flaws, however annoying, are also comforting in a way. Plus, if you are patient with their antics. You will get to see them stumble or step in poop. And it will be hilarious.
A life without friends is no life at all. This can be as source of despair, because friends are hard to make. But don’t worry. There are only three types of friends, and at the bare minimum you really only need one of each. Everything else is bonus points, and the thing about bonus points is that they don’t count.
If you want to be happy, keep a friend around to be happy with. If you want to avoid melancholy, be friends with someone who is always doing amazing things, so you can be happy for them. And if you want to know humility, patience, and wisdom, then find a friend that makes you mad and stay friends with them anyway.