How to grow in friendliness

Virtue is the common thread that binds the tapestry of humanity. The easiest way to be friendly to others (especially those who you do not care for) is to see your own self in them. The secret is to look for and recognize the things that you have in common with others. Most of those things are our shared virtue and humanity. That guy or gal over there loves like you, fears like you, hopes like you, suffers like you, and laughs like you. Seeing your own self in others then gives new meaning to the phrase “ treat others like you would like to be treated”,…..that’s you over there!

Here are some more suggestions for ways to grow in friendliness:

We spend a lot of mental energy evaluating other people, judging their actions, considering their faults and merits, comparing ourselves to them, envying them, being bothered by them … the list goes on and on! It’s easy to start focusing on people’s faults, and to allow them to dominate our relationships with them. If you really sit back and think about it, in the big picture (with all the troubles in this world) the faults in those around us are usually just little annoyances or irritations that we have inflated to colossal proportions. What would happen if we spent less time worrying about the faults of others and more time working on improving our relationships with them? Try it, you will be amazed at the results.

Cultivate friendships and happiness towards those who are happier than we are. When we are fortunate enough to meet people who are consistently happy and content, we should seek out their friendship. We can learn from them and share in their joy. Often we experience envy when we meet others who are happier than we are. We can become so busy wishing that we were happy, that we lose the opportunity to share and learn from them. Sometimes we might be so disapproving or displeased with someone else’s happiness that we are determined – not only to not be a part of it – but to squelch it entirely. We should share other people’s happiness.

We can also grow in friendliness by having compassion for those who are unhappy. When we are suffering, we are so grateful to others who offer any support – even just a friendly smile or a knowing glance. Even if the person who is unhappy is not someone you know, or if it is someone you don’t like… their suffering is keenly felt, and finding the compassion to reach out to them can be a great act of friendliness. Also, when you are suffering yourself, thinking of others who are feeling the same way – and feeling compassion for them – can help lift you out of your dungeon of self-pity.

These suggestions for growth in friendliness call upon us to look for commonality and connection with others… rather than using envy, judgment, and hatred to distance ourselves from people. In the end, friendliness really does have a simple formula,…..judge less, love more.