When we think of happiness, we think of a feeling of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. For many, it is a goal rather than a process or a feeling that emerges from time to time, when we realize how lucky we are to be where we are.
Everyone will have their own definition of what this means, but there is no doubt that when we try to imagine happy scenes, memories of loved ones are likely to come to mind.
Ultimately, life is not worth living if we do not share it with deep social connections or, in other words, if we do not live it with friends. This is confirmed by a new study from the prestigious Harvard University, carried out over a total period of 85 years: the most important thing for happiness is to forge positive social relationships with other people, which last over time. long term.
This will not only bring us psychological well-being that many identify with happiness, but also a longer and healthier life, as many studies reinforce the idea that maintaining strong social relationships prevents a host of physical illnesses. However, not all friendships are the same: some are more intense and others lighter; some persist without the need for real, daily contact and others appear suddenly after sharing the same time and space.
The three types of friendship
Arthur Brooks, professor at Harvard and one of the leading study authors, believes that there can only be three types of friendship and that each of them is necessary to feel what everyone calls “happiness”. Interestingly, this coincides with the classification of this feeling by the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. Several centuries ago, the Stagirite had already found the key to distinguishing the three types of friends that we will see later.
- Useful friendships. These are those that arise between work colleagues or people with whom you have professional contacts. Aristotle would describe them as “utilitarian” friendships, that is to say those which arise from a shared and more or less symmetrical professional interest.
- Pleasant friendships. “This type of relationship is based on mutual admiration because each person derives some kind of pleasure at the expense of the other. It’s born when a person finds a friend fun and interesting and enjoys it,” says Brooks. Which Aristotle would also classify as the kind of people whose presence makes us feel good and allows us to have fun with them.
- Perfect friendships. Brooks directly calls on the Greek philosopher to describe this type of affinities. “By Aristotle’s standards, perfect friendships are those that have a mutual love for something that not only unites them, but gives them some kind of virtue,” he explains. “A relationship is perfect not only when it is based on the utility or pleasure of the other, but also when it aims to improve the living conditions of the other.
Although the latter are given the powerful adjective “perfect”, this does not mean that they are not more important than the other two, because all three are necessary for well-being in life. The only thing is that the first two “don’t bring lasting joy and comfort,” Brooks said, quoted by CNBC. “While we need meaningful and enjoyable friendships, we cannot risk conflict, difficult conversations, or intimate moments with them. This is why “perfect” friendships are the ones that are truly necessary in life. They are often characterized by a shared love for something external to both people, whether it is something transcendent, such as religion, or simply a hobby, such as baseball or music. But ultimately, they don’t depend on work, money or personal ambition.
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