The philosopher Aristotle said: “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.

Friendships are vital for happiness and wellbeing, but they take time to develop and can’t be artificially created. And this is one of the major reasons they are at a risk of being forsaken.

Well, one cannot deny the fact no matter how hard one tries, it is impossible for a person to live without having at least one true bosom friend, a confidant to get through this world even in this digital age, where this false notion seems to be getting the hype that friendship is a myth and influencing people has just become another tool for brushing off momentary success in someone else’s face.

We are living in a world which has totally changed the way we perceive relations as a result of the technological boom. People are so busy trying to adorn their Facebook and Instagram stories that they have lost track of time and relations that once they held close to their hearts. They only care about how many likes their photos have gotten, instead of focusing on the fact whether it actually appeals to others or not. Maintaining true friendship and an actual desire to influence people seems like a Herculean task now.

But still, one shouldn’t lose hope just, because after every dark night comes a day filled with happiness, new desires and opportunities to brighten up the life. And in our quest for popularity in the digital world, there are chances of forming strong and meaningful bonds, and maintaining them.

So how can one maintain friendships in these times when everything seems artificial and transitory? Well, the good news is that you can still maintain lifelong friendships and exert positive influence on people if that is what your heart truly desires. You can do this by applying the following rules in your life whole heartedly. Let us check what these simple rules are.

Take interests in others’ interests

Now this is one of the most crucial steps to maintain a good friendship. You need to show people that you care about them. Listening to other people and paying attention to their interests is the most effective way of winning people’s hearts.

In a friendly manner, encourage people and give your advice in matters that seem important to others. This will show that you care and help develop an air of trust and respect.

Appreciate others

Everybody craves affirmation, and that doesn’t come cheap in this generation. In order to develop a strong bond, it is necessary to genuinely appreciate others for their efforts.

Emerson wrote: “Every man is entitled to be valued for his best moments.”

So focus in the good in others rather than their shortcomings and help them to overcome their shortcomings. This will help to reciprocate mutual affinity and you will be able to win a genuine friend who will help you in your time of distress too.

Listen with interest

In order to build a strong bond and make long lasting impression, you need to win your friend’s confidence. Listen to their problems and insecurities, and suggest suitable solutions. Even if you can’t give a suitable advice, just listen wholeheartedly and empathise with their concern, build a connection. Make sure your friend understands that you are there for them. This way you will be able to win a loyal friend for life.

It is often said that you live and learn, but perhaps an equally important lesson for us all is that if you listen and learn, you live more harmoniously.

Discuss what matters to them

Today everybody is obsessed with themselves — trying to increase followers on social media, trying to educate people about the issues that they think are of paramount value and trying to draw attention to themselves. There is a dire need of a true friend, a boon companion in order to share the secrets of the heart to provide relief to the soul.

Once you know what matters to others through the practice of listening longer, you can truly engage them by putting such matters at the forefront. This way you will be able to understand people better and check if their interests match that of yours.

Make others feel a little better

Everybody wants to feel good about themselves and wants to be acknowledged and appreciated by their peers.

People happily point out the flaws of others, but would not be kind enough to appreciate people’s positive attributes. In order to develop long lasting comradeship, try to seek out others’ admirable qualities, and praise and appreciate them.

Try to make others feel good about themselves just as you would want to feel good about yourself. But be genuine in your appreciation because a fake complement is always obvious to everyone.

According to renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins: “The real way to winning friends and influencing people today is moving relationships from manipulative to meaningful. The only way you do that is by constantly adding meaning and value.”

Once Winston Churchill asked President Dwight Eisenhower, who had laboured alongside famous personalities such as that of Bernard Law Montgomery and Franklin D. Roosevelt, “You know why I like you, Ike? Because you ain’t no glory hopper.”

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything,” said Muhammad Ali, the boxer and philanthropist.

So if you want to be the luckiest and richest person in the world, don’t try to accumulate a lot of wealth, try and collect a lot of genuine friends. And you can do it by investing building deep and lasting friendship.

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 17th, 2020