Did you know there's an international friendship day? It's the first Sunday in August and the US Congress has declared it a holiday in 1935. Amazing, innit?
With all I've been writing about finding yourself and taking responsibility for your actions, I wanted to make sure that you know I wasn't advocating a life of solitude and sacrifice.
We define our sense of self in response to the image we see mirrored in others. Indeed, it'd be hard to say what we are and what we're not if we had nothing or nobody to compare ourselves to. Some of our ambitions might even grow out of wanting to out-do the Jones'. In a healthy adult, these comparisons don't turn into greed or jealousy, because they don't threaten the safety one feels about one's own image. Being secure in one's own skin is the best defense against prejudice and fear.
In my opinion, life is better with friends in it. They accept and love us for who we are, they stimulate our minds, they are generous with their affection and - if we're lucky - they are great sources of insight, constructive criticism and praise. They're a shoulder to cry on, the drinking buddy when we need one, and the keeper of our secrets.
The people we surround ourselves with also reflect back on us. Are your friends people you look up to and respect? Are they good role-models? Or are you sometimes embarrassed by the way they behave?
I invite you this week to think about your friends. When was the last time you told them how you felt about them? Is there maybe something you've always wanted to say but never found the words? Maybe it's even time to have a chat with old friends who don't fit the profile anymore.
The following still holds true: whatever hard times you're going through, you're the one in charge of making changes and finding your own solutions. But: you don't have to face it alone. Share with a friend, and though they may not know the answer, they'll be listening and supporting you.
(Re-post from the archives; first published in 2008.)