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Do you have any *real* friends?

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Idea Journal Weekly 3

January 30 · Issue #228 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.


Summary: What exactly is a “real friend”? How many do you need? And once you have a real friend, how do you keep the relationship going? This issue offers a few answers.
(~3 min read)

#1. What's a "real friend" made of?
Entrepreneur Steve Sims writes in his book Bluefishing that a real friend is someone you don’t have to put on an act for—you can be yourself.
What does this look like in practice?
For Sims, these are the people “whose doors I could knock on, at one o’clock in the morning and go, ‘I’m fucked,’ and they would go, ‘Get a seat. Let’s chat.’”
People who Sims can call and say, “I’m on the other side of the planet, but I just lost my wallet. I need to borrow your credit card. What are the numbers?”
They’re the people you never have to give excuses to. 
“You don’t have to be anyone else for them. Just you.”
So, how many real friends does Sims have?
As he puts it: “This is going to sound harsh, and it might upset a lot of people I know, but the simple fact is that in my life, outside of my wife, I think I’ve got three fiends.”
How many do you have? And how many do you need?
#2. With friends, quality > quantity
Entrepreneur Emil Anton and his team at Alux say in a video that if you want to be really rich, one of the sacrifices you have to make is having a social life.
Wait, you can’t have friends and try to get rich?
Well, you shouldn’t have time for people who are not pushing you further.
“Cutting down on the toxic individuals is a must, then followed by those who are not actively making you better.”
As the Alux team notes, it’s common for successful people to dramatically reduce their inner circle to focus on the quality of the individuals.
So, how many people are we talking about?
“The average future millionaire has 1.8 close friends.” 
And they themselves are also focused on getting rich—that way they can push each other further along.
Whatever the number, you need people who can relate to your struggles and who will understand why you’re putting in so much effort.
“If you really want to make it, your inner circle should decrease in size, but increase in value.”
#3. What can physics teach you about your friendships?
Researchers Lauren McCann and Gabriel Weinberg write in Super Thinking that physics can teach us about the need to maintain order in our relationships. 
As McCann and Weinberg note, the concept of entropy measures the amount of disorder in a system. 
The second law of thermodynamics states that in a closed system, entropy naturally increases over time. 
If you consider the universe as one big closed system, the law leads to the “plausible end state of our universe as a homogeneous gas, evenly distributed everywhere, commonly known as the heat death of the universe.”
On a practical level, the second law of thermodynamics reminds us that you have to actively maintain order. If you don’t, it will be chipped away by naturally increasing disorder. 
For example, if you don’t clean your home it will become more messy. If you don’t actively manage your time well, it will go to “random, largely reactionary activities.”
The lesson is that you have to continually put energy back into systems to maintain their orderly state.
And this is also true for your relationships. 
As McCann and Weinberg put it: “To keep the same level of trust with people, you need to keep building on it.”
Quote of the week
“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
- Attributed to Greek philosopher Aristotle
Idea Journal
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