1. Introduction
Being a good friend is difficult: it’s not just about treating others with respect, generosity and empathy – it means also being able to understand them.
2. Respect as a Component of Friendship
We all have friends (or not) and we’ve all made mistakes (or not) in the ways we treated them. All of these are examples of how we treat friends, and none are good ones. The above applies to the animal kingdom as well: the ability to be a good friend is an example of being able to empathize with other animals. No animal is perfect, but we should be able to recognize that other animals have feelings just like our own. This might sound like such a simple point, but it is not easy to put into practice. If you find yourself making assumptions about another person’s feelings or behaving in an unkind manner towards them because you don’t know how they feel, then you’ve done something wrong.
3. Generosity as a Component of Friendship
Generosity is something that’s far too often taken for granted (and deserves much more recognition). It’s not only a great virtue in itself, but one that can also create tremendous value. Being generous with your time, energy, or money doesn’t just make you feel good, but can actually create value as well. Even if it’s not immediately obvious where that value might come from, what matters most is that there is some benefit for both parties in that exchange — whether it’s better work or better learning opportunities or even greater access to resources.
4. Generosity in Practice: Giving without Expecting Anything in Return
Generosity is a big part of being a good friend. It means that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and it means that you are willing to share your own personal and professional success with others. When you give something to someone, it makes them feel good, so they want to share some of their own. Generosity is a double-edged sword. You’re expected to be generous in the short-term so that they feel good while they are giving, but if you give too much too soon, the generosity is often taken as an indication of weakness (which isn’t necessarily true). Generosity can be interpreted as “I think I should get something back in return.” So, if someone gives you money on your birthday (or on Mother’s Day or Christmas), it can be viewed as “generous” in the short-term, but in the long-term it could discourage them from giving more because they might feel like they deserve something back from you. This is another weakness: most people prefer reciprocity (i.e., “Give me some of yours for a change”) over charity (i.e., “Help me out by giving me some of yours for a change” – which sounds like an interesting concept until someone explains it to you). A great way to start thinking about this is that when people ask for money on your birthday or Mother’s Day or Christmas, most people would ask for one thing in return:  a gift! As mentioned earlier: there are two key components  to being generous: respect and empathy. Respect means that you care about what others think about you; empathy means that when someone does something nice for us we will feel good about it; and generosity needs both these things together.
5. Empathy as a Component of Friendship
There is no such thing as a “bad” or “good” friend. Even the most unlikely of friendships can be beneficial and the best friendships can lead to the greatest benefits. In his book, The Power of Empathy, Dr. Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), said that empathy is one of the two major components of friendship. I believe this sentiment is equally true in our own lives as well. If we feel we are too distant with our friends — if we don’t understand their feelings or needs — then we will not be able to build a relationship with them, nor will they want to want to build a relationship with us.
6. Empathy in Practice: Understanding
As a friend, you should always take into consideration the feelings of your friend. This includes not only the feelings of others but also your own. You should be able to understand the emotions that are being displayed by your friend and respond in a way that shows respect for the way he or she is feeling. When you are in a relationship with someone, they will always express their feelings to you. When they feel happy, they may show it through physical actions such as smiling, laughing, and showing affection toward you. If they are sad, they may show it through crying, which is also shown through physical actions. These physical actions may differ depending on the situation; for example, if one person is sad but wants to cry publicly while another is angry and hides it from everyone else to avoid making the situation worse. In some cases, even these actions may have different meanings and display different levels of emotional expression; sometimes an emotional outburst can be taken as a social rejection by others whereas sometimes crying can be seen as being weak or helpless. As a friend you should listen carefully to how someone feels about what has happened so far (they tell you about it) or what is happening now (they tell you about themselves). You should show empathy for them when listening and showing empathy means that you care enough about them to let them know how you feel when hearing something bad happen. This can help them feel better and help you feel better too because empathizing with someone’s feelings will make both of you feel better when listening together.

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