Making Friends

Have you ever noticed how easily children make friends? I’m always impressed by their untempered ability to walk up to another child and say “I’m Jack, do you want to play?” Young children are especially facile in this regard, perhaps because they have yet to develop complexes, self-image issues, prejudices and bad habits.

I have yet to meet a four year old who questions the motives of another the minute he meets someone. Neither have I seen a five year old shun another for his looks or social standing. The relative lack of judgment is refreshing and while I do agree that a well-developed capacity for discernment is valuable, the judgmental attitudes that most adults take toward one another is tragic and unnecessary.

Were people to mature completely, there would be no judgment. Judgment, and the condemnatory attitudes that accompany it, is employed by those who have yet to grow into the noble and magnanimous shoes given to every human being at birth. A refined, empathetic, self-assured and humble bearing is the birthright of each one, yet few on earth are given the nourishment, respect, challenges and guidance required to arrive at the point where their inner greatness is fully revealed.

Mankind has created a world for itself that essentially makes it so that no one is born into a perfect set of circumstances. That said, no one should accept the fact that they have a valid excuse for not revealing the highest and finest of which they are capable in any and every situation.

Part of the reason why children are so effective at making friends is because they have not yet begun the process of cataloging the reasons why they can’t do their best, why they can’t approach life and others with a pure and uncomplicated heart and why they feel justified in retiring from life rather than embracing it. No matter where you are now, it is important to remember that you were there once.

Your childhood may have been shorter than that of others, but there is no reason why you cannot let go of that which separates you from your birthright and let go to a less cluttered expression of who you are underneath the scars, bumps and bruises you’ve accumulated over your lifetime, here and now.

Making friends can be easy again. True friendships are not formed on the basis of commiseration. They are formed on the basis of a mutual appreciation for one another and for the opportunity to “play,” that is, to engage in a shared process of imagination, enjoyment and doing. Life really can and should be that easy!

21 thoughts on “Making Friends

  • Gregg, I love what you are saying here! The popular expression these days is “put your big pants on” but I liken that this morning to “put your birthright pants on and get to living as you were put on this earth to!” Thanks for a great start to the week!

  • What a refreshing look at friendship! It’s nice to know that as adults, we can still approach life and people with assurance and openness. So often, we make snap judgments about people and don’t give them a chance. This tendency robs us of an opportunity to enjoy the unique characteristics of another person, blocks them from seeing the same with us and keeps our relationships at a superficial level.

    • Snap judgments are rarely useful in my experience. Get to know someone for yourself and don’t rely on the prejudices of others to form your opinions about the world you center. We could all benefit from being more spacious and gracious with one another.

  • Very true. What strikes me is how adults often never communicate with the neighbours they live with for years. Can you imagine a four year old ignoring the similarly aged child up the road?

  • Wonderful post!….you’re right, and I witness it everyday with my children. To think that we were each there at one point and can return there just as easily is a real breath of fresh air, particularly in these modern advanced times.
    As adults we could stand to take a few notes of how children interact with each other – how inclusive and accepting they are of each other…..hmmmm, good thoughts for the week – thanks Gregg

  • I remember with my children that 20 minutes after arriving at a campground they’d be with a troop of 4 to 5 other children (who didn’t know each other either) inviting them to our campsite…food, games, etc. and then going off exploring the new surroundings together. I always marveled at the genuine camaraderie they so quickly created and yet as the families left there was no exchange of information to keep the relationships going. If you questioned a child about the other children they usually knew next to nothing about them except possibly their first name. It was what ever it was for the moment, they didn’t try to make it into something else and categorize their future possibilities.They don’t act desperate to find and hold on to people they can relate to.
    As you said some type of discernment should evolve. I think there’s where the musings of our adult hearts are revealed to us. How do we judge others? Does their heritage, job or appearance make them more worthy of our kindness?
    Great post. I think loneliness is a habit that we don’t have to settle for. Little kids are a great example to see how we can share the joys of the moment with most anyone.
    Thanks.

  • Hi Gregg,

    Great points here today.

    I know you are a fan of Malcolm Gladwell and I loved his book Blink where he talks about the value to gut feelings for decision making.

    Do you have insight on how to balance using one’s instinct but not falling prey to the negative side of snap judgements?

    James

    • I do love Malcom’s perspective though I don’t necessarily agree with all of his conclusions. As far as your questions goes, I constantly remind myself that appearances can be – and more often than not are – deceiving. Gladwell’s assertion that “Instinct is the gift of experience” is situationally accurate although I firmly believe that what is now normal is not natural.

      The idea of relinquishing judgment is terrifying to human beings because they feel that given what is now normal they will be preyed upon and eventually duped by others more malicious and less scrupulous in their intent. What they fail to take into account is the fact that in releasing the desperate grip on judgment they initiate a simultaneous process of purification of their own heart and subsequently which in turn affords them the ability to look more clearly upon the heart of others, obviating the need for snap judgments.

      Snap judgments are to discernment as cunning is to wisdom. Snap judgments, like cunning, appear to get the job done and most people use them as a strategy for dealing with a complicated world, but just because the majority believe something is right doesn’t always mean that it is.

  • A child can interact with another child without knowing anything about them. Without preconcieved notions, a young person can learn what other children are really like, and not just what they expect them to be. As adults, we can learn a thing or two from that, while also applying our knowledge of the world (which a child doesn’t have, and could make their playing unsafe). There are many things that we forget as we get older that would be better if we remembered, such as a vivid imagination and a sense of wonder. Thanks for another great topic for thought!

    • We definitely wouldn’t be wise to act more like children than we already do as adults, but I think there is something to their purity of heart that could be useful if broadly understood and applied in the adult world.

  • Thank you for your precious and inspiring post! We fall prey to the habit of judgements without even knowing it, just due to the fact that everyone around is doing the same thing. What a refreshing reminder it is for us to allow that which is true of us to be expressed, regardless of how others behave. The fact is that when we do that, our hearts will be the source of the wisdom that allows us to discern in a right way. This sounds like a much more natural and less fearful way to live! Good timing on this post due to tomorrows elections!!!

  • The beauty of what you are indicating is that if allowed to actually sink in this could make all the difference the world needs now, a handful of people in position to discern the heart of the matter, clarify it in themselves, and be of assistance to others, without concern for results.
    Thanks for putting the responsibility where it should rest, with me.

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