There’s no denying that our friends have a tremendous impact on our lives. Good friends make the good times even better, and the bad times more bearable. We learn and grow by sharing our thoughts and experiences with them. You could say that a life without friends is no life at all.
And yet, our need for friendship also creates a big risk. By befriending the wrong people, we invite chaos and confusion into our lives, possibly derailing our personal growth. Remember that you need to choose your friends carefully, allowing the good people into your inner circle while keeping your distance from those who would be harmful. Here are some important traits to look for in a good friend.
They’re generally positive.
While everyone has their ups and downs, a good friend will be positive most of the time. You really don’t want a “project,” someone who’s going to suck all the life force out of you with their constant negativity. Friends should benefit from being with each other, and let their positivity rub off on each other.
Life is short, and you don’t have time to save everyone from negativity while dragging yourself down in the process. And this goes both ways. In order to be a good friend, you need to be positive as well. Both of you should make the other feel better about themselves and life in general.
They don’t try too hard to change you.
You can’t change people who don’t want to change. People are different, and we have to just accept that. While we naturally want to share our views and hobbies with other people, it doesn’t make sense to force people to change. So don’t adamantly tell someone that they have to be a vegetarian, or they have to eat meat, or they have to read more books, or they have to stop reading books, or anything else like that.
You can always invite people to try something new, but you don’t want to try to control them. Be friends with someone because of who they are now, not because of who you want them to be.
They give more than they take.
Do you ever get the feeling that someone only seems to be interested in you when you’re throwing a party, or when they need someone to help them move? That might be a sign that they take more than they give. It’s just not healthy to become friends with someone because you want to cash in on what they have to offer you, or vice versa.
A friendship should be mutually beneficial, with each of you offering help, support, and encouragement because you want to, without having ulterior motives. Any fringe benefits like getting invited to the best parties should be secondary to that.
They’re tolerant of your beliefs.
No one we meet is ever going to be exactly like us, and so disagreements are bound to happen. This is perfectly normal, and it makes life interesting. But if you happen to disagree on your deeply held beliefs, for example religion and politics, that can potentially be a problem.
Religious differences have caused many bitter arguments (not to mention wars). Political differences have caused great rifts between people who otherwise got along perfectly. But this doesn’t need to happen. Good friends can accept that one is Catholic and the other is an atheist, or that one is voting for McCain and the other is voting for Obama. There may be some debates, sometimes even heated ones, but at the end of the day, a good friend isn’t going to turn their back on you because of your beliefs. (Well, at least non-fanatical beliefs!)
It’s great to be friendly, and to openly welcome new people into your life. But don’t set the bar so low as to befriend people who will do more harm than good. It’s OK to turn away from people who want to be more like a parasite than a human being. Resolve to be a good friend to others, and to expect the same in return.
Hunter Nuttall wants you to stop sucking and live a life of abundance. Visit his site to learn how to improve your life and your income.
Image by nattu.