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How to Choose the Right Friends – Part 1 of 2

How to Choose the Right Friends – Part 1 of 2

The people you attract into your life have a significant impact upon you. There will be an article forthcoming called the ‘Zen of Friends’ that will address these issues extensively. For now, here are a few ideas and tips.

“People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.” – Plato

An awesome quote from the creator of the Allegory of the Cave. Select your friends with the most intensive care. They help create and sustain the environment and culture in which you either thrive or get blighted. Sure, give everyone the opportunity to be your friend, but approach every new person with a degree of caution, discernment and detachment until you have a clearer idea of who and what they are, and what they are really about. This means that you should share your dreams and goals only with those who value and respect them as much as you do.

It’s important to understand people quickly – it often takes the first thirty seconds or so. It’s easy to spot people for whom you’ll have little time or nothing in common. Avoid losers, gossipers, negative people, Toxics, those who drag you down and sap your energy – after all, those qualities might be contagious and you don’t want to become anything like those people.

The company you keep, like the books and movies you delight in and the thoughts that continually replay themselves in your mind, often determine who and what you become. So be a metacritic of all these things and be selective about who and what you attract (and want to retain) in your life.

Pick up any personal development book and you’ll see that thoughts are pervasive and have a profound effect on your life and fortune. Friendship is not just about company but about exchanging thoughts, experiences and opinions. The people who you hang out with have quite an effect on your mind. So choose them skilfully.

Have different friends for different times and parts of your life, different needs and to help you to grow. Your best friend who you get drunk with, the laid back DGAF type, may talk you through the lonely midnight, but you may want another friend to inspire you to ascend the corporate ladder. These friends serve different purposes depending what you want to do, just as you serve different purposes to them, based on context, personal goals and whatnot.

Focus on selecting those friends who’ll help you create the type of future you want. Remember, you become similar to the people you hang out with, so be aware of how they impact your behaviour. Choose ones who’ll make a positive difference. But you also want a good variety, as ‘all work and no play’ friends might make you a bit of a dullard, limiting your options and your view of life.

Have a set of criteria for choosing people. Ask yourself a few searching questions.

Does spending time with someone raise your spirits and game? Or keep you down and inert?

How much do you really enjoy being with them?

How will associating with this person help you achieve what you want?

Do they have the same values?

If they have different values, can you learn from them – will you grow as a person by being challenged in your beliefs?

How can you help each other achieve what you both want, both collectively and   individually?

Friendship is mutual – so you need to ask yourself what’s in it for them (apart from the sheer delight of your company, clearly)?

Can you trust them – do you know this or is this wishful thinking?

And can they trust you?

If the answers are in the negative, avoid this person and move on to find people who do add value – and work out how you can do the same for them.

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