The Importance of Friends
Folks, let me tell you about an encounter that happened recently at a book signing for my book, “Just Stop Having Problems, Stupid!” A gentleman came up to me and said, “Dr. Matt, you’ve had all this success and greatness, and built this vast empire upon your great successes. How do I do that?”
I responded with something I sometimes say to questions like this. “Who are your friends?” I said.
He frowned, confused. “My friends?”
“Exactly,” I said. “Who are your friends? Are they people who seek success? Are they people who seek greatness? Or are they people who complain about what they don’t have, or talk about seeking success and then do nothing?” (These are known in the biz as “leading questions”; that is, the fake profession biz.)
He still looked confused. “My friends are… I like who my friends are, they’re great people.” (They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him answer a leading question.)
I could tell by his answer that they probably weren’t great people, but likely they were at least good people. However, it wasn’t the question I had asked, and I knew that further conversation on the topic would probably not go anywhere and would just be stupid. Besides, I had other fans waiting in line. So I signed the book and said to him, “Find other friends who want what you want.”
The reason why I tell this to people is not because great friends are the most important key to success, but they are an essential piece, for sure. (The most important key to success is, of course, not failing.)
You see, there’s this stupid idea in American society (where I was signing the book) of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. Well, unless you are Superman or Spiderman or a superhero other than Aquaman, doing this is likely to topple you. At a certain point, you will be defying gravity. In my book, I write about the power of Jimmy Olsen. You see, Jimmy Olsen can defy gravity if Lois Lane is standing next to him and lifting him, and vice versa. This is the superpower of great friends. (Note that whenever Lex Luther says, “Ooo, Superman, you’ll never get to my doomsday device in my kryptonite-wallpapered room,” Superman can just send in Jimmy Olsen, but he rarely does because Superman is kind of full of himself.)
I have a friend who you may know, the famous architect Jonathon Stembridge-Rickenbacker. His name is a little long so among friends, we call him JSR. Besides building some amazing structures like the Crystal Phonebooth, that just seems to shine through some sort of internal light when the sun hits it, JSR has some sort of superpower of good advice. Seriously, you talk to that guy, and if you were Dr. Matt before, then after the conversation, you are the pure essence of Dr. Matt, a molecularly-aligned structure not unlike that phonebooth, with unlimited long distance access. That is a great friend, the kind you want to seek out.
One time JSR said to me, “A true friend is one that knows your heart, and when you forget, sings it back to you.” I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but I felt pretty damn good.
Some people hold onto their miserable friends, because they like to pat themselves on the back for tolerating such intolerable people. I ask myself after spending time with someone, do I feel elevated and joyful, or do I feel diminished and miserable? Or, on a basic level, I rate the experience with either a plus or minus. If there’s more minuses than pluses, then that person gets a bus ticket to the airport, where a plane ticket is waiting for a trip to Florida where they catch a cruise ship to GetOutOfMyLifesville.
Some people say, “But Dr. Matt, I don’t necessarily feel joyful, but I don’t feel miserable around that person.” Well, that’s a big warning to me, because if that person doesn’t ever make you feel joyful, likely they make you feel miserable and you’re just not willing to admit it. And before you start whining and complaining that it’s judging people, it’s not about that. You can love them for their imperfections, and still turn down taking care of their cat when they’re away. They can be good people, and still be horrible friends.
So who are your friends? Are they pluses or minuses? Add more pluses, subtract the minuses, and you’ll be fine. Unless you’re a mathematician, in which case this process would be of no help to you.
Just My Thoughts,
*Dr. Matt is not a real doctor.