Five True Friends

mooseThe Philosopher’s Mail is one of my favorite sites on the web. Happiness is a recurring theme in their writing, as is social connection. As your doctor can confirm, there is a link between social connection and health.

The good people at Philosopher’s Mail shared Epicurus’ recipe for a good life. The link is to a lovely article with snazzy pics of Paris Hilton. The article is worth your time – it describes an antidote if you find that external success fails to lead to lasting satisfaction.

The philosopher’s antidote

  • Five true friends, that reinforce inner values (not the external values of city living)
  • Self-determination by escaping the tyranny of corporate serfdom, regardless of financial cost
  • Daily time for quiet reflection, ideally with low-intensity exercise in nature

It’s an interesting list because most of us will lack one aspect of the troika. In my case, it takes effort to say “yes” to social interaction.

As well, we are usually attracted to people that have external traits that we wish to emulate. This can be a good thing…

  • A politically-connected friend making us feel gratitude that we don’t have the duties that come with being a very important person.
  • A healthy friend inspiring us to start a streak of daily activity.
  • A champion friend inspiring us to persist a little longer at a difficult task.

I have different pals with all of the above and, when I’m at my best, they reinforce good traits in me.

However… I’ve also noticed that my most human, and occasionally screwed up pals, can leave me feeling grateful, useful and valued – three traits that have a strong link to personal happiness.

So while the need for pals is well known, I can lead myself astray. So it’s worth using my daily time to quietly consider…

  • Do I have five people to whom I can speak plainly?
  • Separately, who are the five people with whom I spend the most time?
  • How do those people make me feel?

Once I have insight, it’s up to me to have the courage to change.

Be brave.