Monday, August 30, 2010

Choosing your friends

How to choose the set of people around you whom you call your friends and who are the most dear to you? Honestly, friendship is not a matter of pure rational choice, but a matter of the heart. But, sometimes, your emotions mislead you to disappointments too. So, firstly you can choose the set of people you wish to be friends with intuitively. But, at the same time, there is one important thing that can be taken care of to ensure you so not end up disappointed.

The most important thing to take care of while choosing your friends is your personal value system. Some people, who introspect, start developing their value systems and basic philosophy in life which they wish to adhere to. Personal value systems are above people - its one's closest set of personal beliefs which one attempts to follow, irrespective of circumstances and people around. Any person whom you call your friend MUST respect your deepest beliefs and value systems.

I would classify people into 3 categories - people who follow similar beliefs as yours, people who have different belief systems yet are respectful of yours, and people who disrespect your belief system. The first set of people cause synergy. It is a great experience to be around such people as they help you get a better understanding of your own system of thinking. The second set of people are very important to keep around you. They may disagree with your belief systems and help you rectify your course of action with their viewpoints. But, this set of people are not imposing. They acknowledge the fact that although the personal value systems of two people are different, each of them deserves respect and not mockery or criticism because one personally does not believe in the other.

The third category of people who criticize your value systems because of their disagreement with it tend to superimpose their expectations on you - expectations which infringe on your basic values which you hold dear. This third category of people should not be made close friends with because it would lead to a lose-lose situation where both parties are unhappy - one because his or her own value system is not given due respect and the other, because he/she does not find his/her expectations satisfied from the other individual.

Also, an important point to note here is the implementation of one's belief systems. Each individual's belief systems are marred by a number of constraints. For example, I do not like to eat in a place where veg and non-veg food are cooked together, but I dont have an option other than eating in my college mess which cooks both meals together. So, what does one do in this case? Each person who tries to follow his/her value systems strictly might also need to accommodate for such situations irrespective of his/her personal wishes. A friend would be able to understand that the implementation of the belief system is not ideal and may help you to improve on it or will understand the situation instead of making a fuss about it. But, the third set of people would call you a hypocrite because you cannot perfectly implement your belief system.

It is my personal belief that a hypocrite is one who has a belief system which contradicts itself and one who manipulates his philosophy to suit different situations. On the other hand, someone with a consistent value system who finds it difficult to implement his philosophy under all circumstances is not a hypocrite, but is in a sense, constrained by the environment.

If friends start imposing such constraints on you or expect that you adapt your belief systems for them like you adapt them for other environmental constraints, then they are no good. It is good to keep such people as part of the environment instead of keeping them in the close set of people around you. Friends should help you realize any inconsistencies in your basic philosophical premise, if any, and also understand the problems encountered in its implementation.

Your friends will understand and respect your belief systems and will also attempt to understand the difficulties you face in implementing them fully, even if they follow a different value system than your own. Friends need not be similar - but they should be able to respect the differences!

PS: A word of hope - People do change and hence, it is a good idea to not close yourself from anyone. But, you can maintain adequate distance from people till they start respecting your viewpoints and values.

A special thanks to Ramana Krishnan for the enlightening discussion which led to this blog post.


Kritidas said...

Nice read and no doubt a bit philosophical :) So, the Bhutan Trip was more than just a vacation trip :)

Jayesh said...

Very well has been a long time since I heard some of your deep thoughts.

BTW, you would agree that I belong to the second set of friends :)

Take care buddy!

Harish said...

Nice post...A word to Kriti above...yes it was indeed an enlightening trip if you give it a little least for me... :)

The vegetarian food issue was something that I was particularly touched by....I was obsessed with this funda of "authentic Bhutanese food" - so much so that one day we happened to leave Shreyans out....and well I have not quite forgiven myself for the stupidity of the act...esp given my belief system....I always like to believe that making friends happy (by cracking stupid jokes of course :D) and acknowledging the presence of everyone around is something I am good at...But that act kind of saddened me...Good lesson for me I guess... :)

Shreyans Mehta said...

For me, the trip was to be a spiritual journey into myself. Hence, I went all alone when I reached the monasteries because that is what I wanted. Similarly, you wished to eat Bhutanese food which you would otherwise not have gotten a chance to try in all probability. So, you need not feel bad about it. Rather, you came with me for all my food shopping etc. I am thankful for that :)

Rather, you never insulted my belief system by attempting to say that I should change my ways for others and adjust for other people. You were kind enough to accept my values and beliefs with respect and I really appreciate that.

What I would not like is people trying to tell me how my beliefs should be amended to accommodate other people when they know how closely I hold these beliefs. You guys appreciated my personal value system. So, dont be so harsh on yourself. If you want to enjoy something, you very well should :)

Bhutan was always more than vacation for me. Was more like a small spiritual journey. And yes, it did open me up to a few more philosophical ideas I guess :D

Second category - Bingo! And I appreciate that :)

Ramana said...

Harish being harsh, toh Harsh kya karega? Arbit joke aside, my only issue is about the grey area when 'sticking to values' become such an adamant thing that you tend to ignore when the friends may genuinely have a point. All in the name of 'being respected for the pov' of course.
Case in point - Person X is a heavy drug addict, and it is part of his value system (that you get closer to God when high - as arbit as it might sound :P). I am guessing, the friends trying to correct in that case might not necessarily be a lose-lose situation.
You might argue that this heavy drug addict thing is a clear case of 'black' (in terms of 'good' and 'bad') while eating pure veg in only veg restraunts is a case of white or grey. I would just say that such a judgement is subjective as well.

Shreyans Mehta said...

If the drug addict believes that having drugs is part of his/her value system and a necessary part of his/her life, then you can give your point of view. If he/she doesn't agree, there are 2 things - either you respect his/her pov, and if you cant do that, then it is a lose-lose situation to be friends with such a person.

Value Systems are not supposed to be highly flexible anyways. It is the set of beliefs which you would attempt to adhere to, come what may. So, its obvious that people will be adamant about them. For example, Mr X might be adamant about not putting proxy for anyone else. Now, this person will be adamant about it irrespective of what all his/her friends say to him/her.

Devang said...

Very will written Shrey. Heard your philosophical side after a long time!!

Unknown!!! said...

friendship could start with as simple as.. "Oh you too..I thought I was the onlyone" kind of situation..
..I was just wondering..if there was clone of yours exactly..ditto till dna level..will u be a thickest friend with him..If I were to then..may be or may be not..because what I've experienced is..we people are never consistent in our behavior..
but right..rubbing ones views on to others and forcing them to behave as per one not acceptable by anyone..I agree there are some people like that even I've experienced..

Shreyans M said...

I enjoyed reading this blogpost. I hit on it randomly while searching my name (which matches exactly with yours) :)
This blog made me think in a completely differen perspectives.

Shreyans M said...

I enjoyed reading this blogpost. I hit on it randomly while searching my name (which matches exactly with yours) :)
This blog made me think in a completely differen perspectives.