Learning About Friendship


I have always wanted to make genuine friends, and be liked by everyone. But I have been an ignored person since school days. People who have never even spoken to me judge me & ALWAYS make negative opinions about me. I am nothing but a laughing stock for people. I tried talking about this with my father, and he thinks I have a poor body language. I don’t understand that either. I strongly believe in Karma & do good, but all I receive in return is people stabbing me in the back. Please help.

—AJ, India


Dear Friend,

One key precept well worth practicing, even if at times not easy to do, is to distinguish between how others respond to you and how you respond to them.

What I mean by this is simply that we can make our lives miserable if we concern ourselves too much with how other people treat us, and, all too often, what we “imagine” they may think of us. We cannot help or control the behavior of other people. The sooner we can accept that, then we can be begin working on our own behavior. As Mahatma Gandhi said so well and now famously: “Be the change you seek.”

Our behavior is the only legitimate realm of our interest (unless the other person is our child, our student in class, an employee or someone otherwise given to us for training, or, unless we are in jeopardy of harm or abuse.)

Swami Kriyananda, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, has a wonderful small book (30-days worth of suggestions) called SECRETS OF FRIENDSHIP.

In essence, however, if we want to have friends we must learn to be a friend, first. This is difficult of course if others reject our friendship, but then that is their right to do so and we must then either keep trying or turn elsewhere.

But, either way, it is we who must make the first move. This means thinking of the needs of others, first. In fact, it means not thinking at all about our need for friendship but simply developing an interest in and concern for the well-being and happiness of other people.

If you are consistently smiling, upbeat and helpful, few people can resist your smile. Never mind that some may misunderstand or be grumpy, most people are basically good and everyone appreciates a smile and a helping hand. Naturally, you must be sure that your extension of a helping hand or smile is appropriate to the other person and the circumstances. But that is generally a matter of common sense, custom, and sensitive awareness.

So, try to forget the past and be a friendly person. Be so centered in yourself and so sincerely self-giving that rejection no longer affects you. This won’t happen overnight, probably, but you start slowly and build up your confidence.

As Yogananda counseled his audiences: BE A SMILE MILLIONAIRE!


Nayaswami Hriman