Choices…choices…choices….just like you can make unhealthy choices around diet and exercise, you can also make unhealthy choices with who you surround yourself with.
Healthy friendships enrich our lives on every level. They contribute to our happiness, confidence, and our sense of purpose. A friend should be someone you choose to have in your life because they improve it in some way.
Toxic friendships can have the opposite effect. I’m sure you’ve heard of the quote by Jim Rohn, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”
In addition, according to the social proximity effect, you’ll mirror the habits of the people you spend the most time with. Who are your 5? Do you like their habits?
Obviously, it’s our duty as human beings to be kind to everyone – to love. However, spending your spare time with people who you do not connect with, who have opposite goals as you, disrespect your values, or worse, hurt you, can negatively impact your health.
I found Robin Dunbar’s social network theory very interesting. According to his theory, the average person has 2 special friends, 3 to 5 very close friends, approximately 10 to 15 people that are considered “good friends”, and 150 that you can mentally maintain any kind of relationship with.
As I journey through life, many friends have brought great joy in the good times and great comfort in the hard times. I like to recognize 3 types of friendships – friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime. Not every friend is a friend for a lifetime, and that’s okay!! Your friendships will change as you change. For this reason, as your friends change here is a helpful list of 6 things to look for when choosing your circle.
1. FRIENDS WHO HELP YOU GROW – Healthy friendships support, encourage, and motivate you. They know what’s important to you and provide positive feedback to help you get there.
2. FRIENDS YOU CAN TRUST – This should really be BOLDED. Friends where there is mutual respect for one another. Someone you know will protect your friendship. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, but a good friend will have enough confidence in your relationship to first acknowledge the mistake – then apologize and correct it.
3. FRIENDS WHO INSPIRE YOU – These types of friends can help provide invaluable advice on their experiences, struggles, growths and tips to push you toward growth.
4. FRIENDS WHO ARE OLDER THAN YOU – It’s good to know people who are more mature than you, who have had more life experiences, who have been through stuff! They can provide a TON of wisdom and insight.
5. FRIENDS WHO ARE YOUNGER THAN YOU – Having friends that are younger than you can give you a natural boost of energy. They can broaden and freshen your perspective in areas. Inspire you to pursue fresh new ideas and keep you young while encouraging playfulness.
6. FRIENDS WHO ACCEPT YOU – Obviously you don’t want to feel judged by your friends – ever!! It’s important to be able to share whatever is on your heart. The good, the bad, AND the ugly without being afraid of what they’ll think of you OR what they’ll do with that information. These friends are EXTREMELY special and, in my experience, quite rare – so if you have one of these unicorn friends, hang on to them tightly.
Friendships should be a meaningful contribution to your life. They can help us find purpose and meaning, stay healthy, and live longer. My advice is to be intentional and recognize those friendships you want to foster, invest in, and be selective with who you spend your time with.