Saturday, August 23, 2008


Wisdom From Harvey:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

The best ship to sail—friendship

Aug. 17-23 is National Friendship Week. I'm amazed that we only have one week to celebrate that, because I appreciate my friends every day!

I've heard this quote many times, including from my good friend Muhammad Ali: "Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything."

I have friends whom I've known since I was a little boy, friends from college, friends who started out as business contacts, golfing friends, friends who share my passion for community service, and friends I met last week. And they all have one thing in common: We like each other for what we are, not what we want each other to be.

Greek philosopher Socrates was asked, "What is the most beneficial thing a person can acquire?" He answered, "A friend who gives sincere advice."

I am fortunate to have friends who aren't afraid to ruffle my feathers when it comes to advice. If I need to adjust my attitude, alter my course, back off or move forward, I have friends who will tell me. And because I value their friendship, I listen. And I will return the favor, if necessary. And we will remain friends because friendship is like a bank account: You cannot continue to draw on it without making deposits.

Friendship must have been a hot topic among the Greek philosophers. A century later, Aristotle viewed friendship among the highest virtues. It was an essential element in a full, virtuous, and worthwhile life. He identified three kinds of friendship:

  • Friendship of pleasure—two people are wonderfully happy in each other's company.
  • Friendship of utility—two people assist one another in everyday aspects of life.
  • Friendship of virtue—two people mutually admire one another and will be on best behavior in order not to jeopardize their relationship.

We need all three kinds of friends. Chances are we have some in each category, as well as friends who meet all the criteria.

Great literature, movies and music lyrics are full of references to friendship. The Beatles got by "with a little help from my friends." James Taylor reminded us that when you need a helping hand, "you've got a friend." Bette Midler gave us a long list of reasons why "You've got to have friends." One of the most successful and longest-running television shows of all time was "Friends," which will probably continue to run in syndication when the stars are old and gray.

And contrary to popular belief, dogs are not man's best friends! However, they are extraordinarily loyal and trustworthy—and one reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

We have wonderful opportunities to make friends wherever we go. I jump at those opportunities! I love meeting new people because I get a different view of the world. I may not agree with everything I hear, but what a way to expand your mind.

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They stayed with a very poor family.

When they returned, the father asked the son what he thought of their trip.

"It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yeah," said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!

Mackay's Moral: The best vitamin for making friends is B-1.

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