When I was a young adult, I made a friend who came from a different background than I did. The journey of our friendship originally started when we joined our first job together in Hyderabad, a city which was new to both of us at the time. Within a short time, we went from working together to being close friends.

In India, we have more than twenty different cultures, religious beliefs and languages — and despite the differences, people of different backgrounds and traditions live in harmony. I always knew that individuals from different cultures could connect well together, but it wasn’t until I saw how powerful our friendship was that I learned how meaningful and special a cross-cultural bond could be.

Although we were close as co-workers, the real turning point in our friendship came when I left the job to move back to my hometown. We had to keep in touch when we couldn’t see each other often, and our strong bond didn’t waiver, even with the long distance in our way. She has been a true friend for me since then, and we have known each other for more than 10 years now. I can surely say that she helped me become a better version of myself, and if anything, our differences have only made us closer.

Here are five meaningful lessons our friendship has taught me over the years:

1. Friends can be family

Friends care for you like family members. They are available to help you at any time during the day or night. For instance, I fondly remember the day when my friend took time from her busy schedule and came to visit me when I was under the weather. Her visit brightened my mood, made me feel better, and the flowers she got me made me smile instantly. It was in that act of kindness that I learned how powerful friendships could be.

2. Relationships are worth the time

We all know that time is a precious resource, and when we’re busy at work, it can be difficult to carve out an hour or two to catch up with a friend. When your friend calls you to speak to you, even though you had a busy day, it’s important attend to the call. Meaningful friendships take a certain time investment, but more often than not, that time is worth it.

3. Food can become a bonding experience

When I lived in Hyderabad with my first cousins, I had the privilege of enjoying family recipes and delicious home-cooked food. I would often bring my family’s foods to work with me the next day to enjoy during lunch, and sharing the traditional recipes with my co-worker and friend allowed us to connect on a new level. She learned more about my culture, and we enjoyed our fun lunch breaks together.

4. Celebrations are meant to be spent with friends

From the special birthday cake my friend got me at work to the heartwarming farewell party she threw for me when I was leaving, I learned that momentous occasions are more special when spent with friends. She even flew in from out of town for my wedding when she was in the middle of a stressful job change. These celebrations taught me that good times are meant to be spent with friends, and special occasions help bring you closer to the ones you love.

5. Gratitude is key

It’s important to be able to lean on your friends during difficult times, but sometimes it’s even more important to show that you’re grateful for them during the good times. My friend has been very trusting and dependable over the years, and I’ve learned that when you express your gratitude to others, they know that you love and appreciate them. Simply writing about her after a long time has allowed me to reiterate my gratitude toward her and relive those moments of love and laughter.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving. 

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.