Posted By Hunter Nuttall

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!)

Final thoughts

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.

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