The friends we choose have greater impact over the quality of our lives than most realize. They affect our happiness levels, our personal choices and habits, our feelings of fulfillment vs. loneliness, etc.
Here are a few key reasons why it’s so important to choose our friends carefully, and, how they impact our lives in numerous ways.
1. Quality, worthwhile friends infuse us with feelings of self-worth, affirmation, understanding, warmth, happiness, and support. After spending time with these people, we tend to feel a mixture of sensations such as these. (Of course, there will be occasions when a friend is going through something difficult. They may be struggling and in need of extra support themselves. This is a normal part of life and friendships. During these phases, we might experience less joy, engagement, or support emanating from their end. Part of being a good friend means understanding and being forgiving of this. But, this should be an occasional, not regular thing. Emotionally healthy people, the ones we will enjoy spending time with and will benefit from being friends with, do not constantly have problems, drama, or a plethora of issues).
2. Quality friends are a good influence on us. Our friends heavily impact our choices and habits, much more so then we often consider. So it’s important to choose carefully and to pick people who influence us to be our best selves. Who we surround ourselves with influences who we become.
3. The right friends inspire us in some way. Whether because of their incredible wit and sense of humor, their charismatic personality and warmth, or their hardworking ambition. We may feel moved by their artistic talent and creativity, or their loyalty and kindness. The list goes on. Good friends possess qualities that we ourselves can admire or aspire to. They move us to want to be better versions of ourselves.
4. Quality friendships should be fun! Friendship should be 85% fun and 15% tough stuff (things like, supporting your friend through divorce or relationships ending, a death in their family or a tough time in their life). With the right friends, it should feel joyous and uplifting to spend time with them, the majority of the time.
5. Great friends are a combination of a good sounding board and a good listener. With a high quality friend, you should feel that their advice would generally be valid and worthwhile. At the same time, good friends dispense advice sparingly, generally only when asked. However, when you do ask for their advice, it should be something you would generally trust.
And on the flip side, great friends are great listeners. They make you feel heard, focused on, understood, and cared about. (Of course, even the best listeners cannot be 100% focused every single moment of every interaction. Everyone falters a bit and has moments of distraction, or occasions when they are stressed or tired. A good friend though is a good listener overall and puts in the effort to do this).
6. Great friends are generally uplifting, happy people. You should feel fulfilled, uplifted, energized, and joyful after spending time with them. If you find yourself often feeling negative, drained, bored, or less fulfilled, then these are likely not great friendships.
7. Good friends are generous and reliable. There is an equality to your relationship. It feels generally equal, in terms of give and take. This includes: proposing plans to one another, making time for each other, generally balanced talking and listening times, etc. With good friends, there is a balance.
(Of course, there are occasions of imbalance. During traumas or tough times, big life changes like marriage or moving, these are times when one friend might be leaning on the other more so and that is ok. The key word though is occasion. It shouldn’t become a regular imbalance).
Good friends can also be counted on. To keep their word, to follow through with doing as they say, to be loyal, trustworthy, and reliable.
8. Good friends can communicate openly. If there are hurt feelings or someone feels angered by the other, they can talk about this honestly, with respect and kindness, and work through it. Feeling as though you can approach your friends about these issues indicates a close and genuine friendship.
9. Good friends are open-minded and generally non-judgmental. One should feel comfortable and secure talking to good friends about most topics. As though you will not be judged, looked down upon, or dismissed. But instead, listened to with open mindedness, a sense of curiosity and possibility from the other, with interest and love.
10. Quality friends are generally mentally healthy people. They basically, for the most part, have their sh*t together. If someone doesn’t, they will not generally be a good influence, nor mature enough or truly emotionally available to be a good friend.