Wisdom//

Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and More Powerful People Share the Inspiring Lessons They Learned From Their Friendships

These bonds are crucial for happiness and success.

Mark Davis / Staff / Getty Images / 	Gallo Images / Contributor / Getty Images / Taylor Hill / Contributor / Getty Images
Mark Davis / Staff / Getty Images / Gallo Images / Contributor / Getty Images / Taylor Hill / Contributor / Getty Images

Model Gigi Hadid recently opened up to Harper’s Bazaar Australia about a crucial friendship lesson she’s learned over the years, telling the publication, “It’s not about having 100 friends, it’s about having five or 10 really good friends who understand you in different ways… No one really wakes up feeling their ‘most empowered self’ every day — that’s impossible — but I think when you surround yourself with women who inspire you and make you happy, that can help you get through the day.”

Hadid isn’t the only successful person with valuable takeaways on this topic — here’s what six other powerful people can teach us about the true value of our platonic bonds.

Jennifer Aniston: Friends are truly your chosen family

The actress spoke to Us Weekly about this in 2011, saying, “Where would you be without friends?… The people to pick you up when you need lifting? We come from homes far from perfect, so you end up almost parent and sibling to your friends — your own chosen family. There’s nothing like a really loyal, dependable, good friend. Nothing.”

Aniston truly believes that healthy friendships are a key to happiness.

Bill Gates: Some friends should challenge you

The business leader and philanthropist shared this perspective during a 2017 panel discussion with friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett at Columbia University.

“Some friends do bring out the best in you and so it’s good to invest in those friendships. And some friends challenge you about things you’re doing and that level of intimacy is great,” he said. “It’s really through Melinda and seeing other people I realized, okay, it’s really worth the investment to have those people, as you’re always there to help them and vice versa.”

Oprah Winfrey: If you can get through a road trip together, it’s “the real deal”

The media mogul wrote about her cross-country road trip with best friend Gayle King in O, The Oprah Magazine. After mentioning that being on the road for hours at a time was “grueling,” she described the ways their friendship was tested — like King’s preference for music as she drove, versus Winfrey’s need for silence, among others. “What I know for sure is that if you can survive 11 days in cramped quarters with a friend and come out laughing, your friendship is the real deal. I know ours is,” she writes at the end of the piece.

Amy Poehler: The best friends empower you to dream bigger

Poehler wrote about how her longtime friend Tina Fey has the power to make her dream big in her book Yes Please, writing, “Sometimes Tina is like a very talented bungee-jumping expert. All it takes Tina to softly say, ‘We can do this, right?’ and I suddenly feel like I can jump off a bridge.”

But while Poehler and Fey have worked together before — co-starring in the film Sisters, for example — work friendships can do more than provide support: They can also help you avoid burnout.

The comedian opened up to Stylist about how she and Fey don’t feel they have to give gifts to show they care saying, “I could get her something luxurious like a cashmere blanket but I also think I could tell Tina, ‘I bought you a cow.’ But Tina and I do what good friends do, which is we don’t expect presents from each other. I’m a grown adult. I don’t need a Christmas present. We haven’t bought each other presents for a while.”

The Dalai Lama: Friendship is built on trust

“Friendship depends on trust—not money, not power, not education. Only if there’s trust will there be friendship,” the religious leader tweeted in 2016.

Mindy Kaling: One solid friend is better than three weak ones

“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about,” the comedian and actress wrote in her 2012 book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Kaling was definitely onto something here: experts agree that you don’t necessarily need many friends to feel fulfilled, and should focus on strengthening the bonds that bring you joy.

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