We’re into the New Year with thoughts of happy beginnings and promises of fresh outlooks. One really good thing about having a global perspective is how many New Years can be had in 12 months by sharing with friends around the world. We have a while to settle into ‘ours’ and really test those resolutions, in the safe knowledge that the Chinese New Year will be here soon in case we need a little boost and another try! That’s a bit sneaky perhaps, until the value of those friendships is considered.

Working as I do in the worlds of psychology and philosophy, I’ve been known to question definitions. For example, take that word ‘friend’. Is it meant to be a title you place on someone? I hope not, as that would mean everyone is a ‘non-friend’ until you decide otherwise. That would mean an awful lot of assessments and judgements, all with huge scope for error.

What if the default meant everyone was your friend? In many cultures that’s the case. I was visiting Ireland many years ago talking with a friend about how I hadn’t found myself being referred to as a tourist. He laughed saying “Harley, a tourist is a friend we haven’t met yet. Once you are met, you can’t be a tourist”. They just ignore any label that might get in the way of them meeting a new friend.

How far can that be taken? NewGenn works with people all around the world and I’m delighted to say the result is a lot of friends. However our work extends beyond people. There are a lot of dogs with nicer skin and coats because they are washed in our Foam Dog Wash.

They say “a dog is man’s best friend”. Any ideas on how that conclusion was reached? It seems a bit limiting to me. Some of the cultures I work in have little scope for friendship with dogs yet they are very friendly people. Perhaps I should question the word ‘best’ as that really is limiting. It introduces the concept that all your other friends need to be graded, beginning with second-best and going down thereafter. What a horrible thought!

Another well used phrase is “a friend in need is a friend in deed”. How big does a deed have to be to warrant inclusion? Is a non-solicited smile enough? Yes, if the brightness of the smiles which come back are any indication. Now we’re getting somewhere, if all you have to do is give a smile and receive a smile. Like any gift, it pays to be considerate as sometimes a smile is not appropriate. Luckily there are many other gestures which fill the spot as consideration of others is a gift in itself.

Imagine how many friends we will meet during this New Year. Then multiply that up by the number of New Years we can have in the next 12 months.

Happy New Year to all our friends – many times over!

Dr Harley Farmer

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