Happy people have more friends

Writers are always happy when people read their articles and books, but most writers have to come to terms with the fact that their writings will be quickly forgotten.
Keep in mind the millions of out-of-print books.
Of course, some well-read books last longer than others. Some are read for decades, and even for a century or two. But what about a writer whose books are still in print after 2,000 years?
Such a writer is Quintus Ennius, who was born in 239 B.C.
Ennius was a famous Latin poet and regarded by the Romans as the father of Latin poetry. He also wrote comedies, satires, and epigrams.
If you want to read this third-century B.C. writer, you can choose from almost 450 books on Amazon.com that include his writings. Amazon also has an 18×24-inch portrait of this distinguished Roman for $49.99.
Certainly, his wisdom is tried and true if it’s still being read after all this time.
That’s why I was interested in his saying, “Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur.”
In other words, “a sure friend is known when in difficulty.” Or alternately, “a sure friend is known in unsure times.”
That quotation has been rephrased and re-rephrased every century since. From around 1000 A.D. comes this translation: “A friend shall be known in time of need.”
In the 13th century, it was “a friend in need is one who helps when one is in need or difficulty.” In the 15th century, in “Old English,” it read thus: “It is sayd, that at the nede the frende is knowen.”
By the 17th century, the phrase had been changed to our familiar “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Last Sunday at the Water’s Edge restaurant, our family had a conversation about what that really means–“a friend in need is a friend indeed.”
We had conflicting ideas. Some thought it meant we had to help other people in need. Others thought that real friends are there when you need them. But finally we figured out that it has to work both ways.
So this is the litmus test for friendship–a friend is there in the troubling and hard times, as well as in the fun times. A friend is there for you and you are there for your friend.
Emily Sohn, a prolific freelance science writer, has “A Recipe for Happiness” in “Science News” (a web-site for children aged nine-14) in which she reports “that happy people . . . have more friends.”
She quotes psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, who has been a happiness researcher for 18 years.
Lyubomirsky says that research-backed happiness boosters include “making friends and family members a big part of your life.” And if you don’t have family, it’s all the more important to have “real” friends.
Speaking to the nine- to 14-year-olds who read “Science News,” Lyubomirsky says there are things anyone can do to become happy, like making friends, “no matter how young you are.”
And remember, you can do the same thing “no matter how old you are.”
It’s up to you to be “a friend indeed” to “a friend in need.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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