Friendship refers to the mutual relationship of sympathy, trust, cooperation, and support between two or more individuals.

True friends place great value on honesty, respect, loyalty and a sincere desire to do what’s best for the other.

They are the ones that provide both spiritual and intellectual revival. They are also the ones who give hope in life’s most difficult situations, help ease life and provide directions to our aims and ambitions.

Findings from the World Happiness Database study show that people with close friendships are happier and more confident.

Moreover, a number of solid studies have found that firm camaraderie improves people’s prospects for good health and longevity.

Conversely, reports have shown that loneliness and lack of companionship are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates.

As Imam Ali (r) said: “The weakest person is the one who cannot make anyone his friend and brother.” (Bihar al-Anwar, V. 74, P. 154)

People with the same values and beliefs, make the best companions. Differences of viewpoints, different culture and interests may make friendships interesting and sometimes challenging but if the core value system is not the same, the friendship itself most probably has no solid base.

The following traditions have stressed the importance of companionship:

Prophet Muhammad (s) asserted: “Man is influenced by the faith of his friends. Therefore, be careful of whom you associate with.” (Bihar al-Anwar, V. 74, P. 192)

Also in another tradition, Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Mix with the noble people, you become one of them, and keep away from evil people to protect yourself from their evils.” (Hadith).

The above traditions point to a similarity in attitude, character, mannerisms and traits that friends learn from each other.

A psychological school of thought describes this learning from peers as mirroring; the behavioural phenomenon in which one person unconsciously emulates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another.

Mirroring often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin declared: “The reality is that you’re likely to start acting more like the people you surround yourself with.”

Prophet Muhammad (s) has mentioned: “The believer is like a mirror to other believers (in truthfulness).” (Hadith).

Accordingly, your friends give you an honest and accurate image like a mirror. They forgive your mistakes but do not hide or exaggerate your strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to empathy, mutual trust and affection in friendship, mental and behavioural improvement is one of the essential factors of efficient camaraderie-ship.

Thus, friends should improve the moral and intellectual features of each other. Eventually, if you want to attract real friends, then you need to be a real friend.

Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

In the same way, be the friend you wish to have.