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Want To Be A Better Person? Pick Better Friends


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20 years ago I made the smartest decision of my life. I accepted a marriage proposal from a U.S. Marine even though married life with him would mean setting aside the carefully planned career I had prepared myself for. My mother was terrified that I was throwing away my chance for a successful and happy future, since her own marriage to a military man had left her a single mother of two in a foreign country.

Her fears seemed pretty rational considering me and my husband-to-be were an unlikely pair. We were opposites in so many ways. He was from a large family, whereas my family was quite small. He was the outspoken life of the party and I was the shy wallflower.

While I spent hours each day working on homework and studying striving for A’s, he spent minimal time on any academic activities content to be an average student. He was an outdoorsman. I was a bookworm.

If dating sites had existed at the time, I doubt we would have ever been matched with one another since we seemed to share no common interests. As it turns out, we were perfect for one another.

The Principle of Growing Center

My husband believes in a principle he refers to as “growing center.” In other words, when two people spend a significant amount of time together, their personalities slowly alter over time so that they eventually meet in the middle. The principle certainly applied to us.

I mellowed him out a bit and he made me more adventurous. It also makes us a good parenting team since my tendency to be overprotective is tempered by his laissez-faire attitude.

The Effect of Growing Center in Friendships

The principle isn’t limited to marriage though. I have found it to be true in my friendships. Consequently, I’m pretty picky about who my close friends are.

Refusing to Grow Center

For a while I was friends with a woman who was very funny (a characteristic that is important to me in a friend). Once we started spending more time together I realized that unfortunately, there were many other facets to her personality that I didn’t enjoy or respect. I tried to overlook them because I wanted to be a good friend and I didn’t want to be judgmental.

Here’s the problem with that—in order to be a good friend, I needed to be supportive of her. Since I couldn’t stand behind some of her actions or beliefs, we had to end our friendship. She didn’t want to be judged (which is how she felt when I wouldn’t back her up) and I didn’t want to compromise my values. Neither one of us wanted to grow center because we were too far apart in traits that were firmly rooted for each of us.

Choosing How You Want to Grow

From this experience, I learned to pay closer attention to the people with whom I choose to spend my time. As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, I try to surround myself with people who I respect, enjoy, and admire.

As I mentioned earlier, a sense of humor is high on my list of priorities and because I ooze sarcasm, that’s a big must-have quality as well. I also admire honesty, loyalty, and strength of character (which usually go together).

Because fitness and health are important to me, I also tend to befriend women who value these things as well. I hope that by spending time with people who possess these qualities I will become stronger in those areas.

Frankly, I’m a bit of pessimist so I should probably throw optimism in as a criteria too, but so far all my BFFs are just as pessimistic as I am. We mask it with our ongoing sarcasm and laughing.

Your own list of admired traits might be different than mine (I certainly hope so because I’m possessive of my friends). Perhaps you haven’t ever considered what traits your friends have in common, if any. At some point in your life, you should figure out what is on your “ideal friend” list because whether you mean to or not, you will end up taking on the traits of your friends.

bff

Yes, it really is that easy to become confident, healthy, or compassionate. If you surround yourself and spend time with people who have those characteristics, you will eventually develop them too.

Conversely, if you spend your time with cruel, gossiping, dishonest individuals, you will soon behave the same. So, if you aren’t happy with yourself or your life, pay attention to the people who are prominent in your life. If the things you don’t like about yourself are traits you are picking up from them, make some new friends.

25 thoughts on “Want To Be A Better Person? Pick Better Friends”

  1. My husband refers to the scientific principle of “entropy” where you mix a glass of cold and hot water together, and the heat exchanges making the glass warm. Your husband sounds like a riot, how do we put up with our men sometimes when they are often so much different than us?

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  2. thank you for your husbands service.. πŸ™‚ you are right about choosing your friend… I had a lot of friends whom I unfriend in real life.. they are not the kind of friend I would really like to be with..

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  3. I could not agree with you more. I had a friend that had some secrets from me that I wish I had known because her reputation ran over on me and I guess maybe I was running around with blinders on or something but as we grew older I realized what was going on behind my back and threw her to the curb.

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  4. I really enjoyed this post. Girlfriends are a big part of my life. I couldn’t survive without mine.

    I have said for a long time now that we have friends for the different seasons of our lives. I had friends in high school that I lost touch with for years and rekindled our relationship because we have similarities again. I have friends who understand the entrepreneurial spirit I have and others who homeschool. I cherish every one of them.

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  5. What an in-depth article you have here, opposite attracts right? Hubby and I are so different in many ways as well but we do compliment each others strengths and weaknesses so it becomes a perfect match..

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  6. I agree! Who your surround yourself with greatly affects your attitude and behavior. Why take that chance by creating a bad environment for yourself? Great article!

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  7. Opposites do attract and you do become more like each other over time. I like you am picky about people I hang out with because of that. I want people that are going to make me a better person in my life not ones that are going to bring me down.

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  8. Iron sharpens iron…. It is so important who we hang out with! Thanks for the reminder to befriend those who are strong in the characteristics we value!

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  9. This is wonderful and shared it in my fb wall πŸ™‚ This reminds me of the saying that goes “Tell me who your friends are and I will know who you are”. πŸ™‚ I would love to have a bestfriend, I think I just lost her after our fight πŸ™

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  10. I couldn’t agree with you more about having better friends. I am always striving to be a better person and try to surround myself with those who feel the same. I do still have a friend from school but I have completely outgrown her so it is difficult to have a lot in common.

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  11. Great post. So very true on many points. I would prefer to have just a few, strong and supportive friends than a bunch who really don’t care.

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  12. i’ve always been jealous of people who have a best friend I never had that growing up and as an adult still don’t have any one person I call a best friend. I people I know who a pass an occasional hello how you doing with but no true friend

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  13. I love and have to agree with your husbands theory of the growing center. I also believe that two people who spend numerous amount of time together tend to merge their ideas, habits etc with each other. In your and your husbands case it worked great! But it can also tear friendships apart because sometimes compromise is not acceptable. Glad that you stuck to your beliefs and wish you the best

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  14. I am so grateful to have the friends that I have in my life. They are a combination of the best parts of myself. At one time I stopped speaking to one of my friends because she was engaged in behavior that I didn’t support. I loved her but it was putting me in a position to lie to other people and that just isn’t me. We stopped speaking for almost a year and there was no animosity. However, we are friends again…. because she has grown. I knew we would always find our way back to each other but like you I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with people that share your values.

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  15. Me and my other half are complete opposites of each other, and it mellows us out, I keep his feet on the floor and him mine.

    As for friends I have a few great friends and I like it that way πŸ™‚ they are all I could ask for. x

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    • I’m with you! Once I find people who I really enjoy and who seem to tolerate my presence, I devote my time and energy there. Consequently, I only have a handful of really close friends, which to me is much better than dozens of mere acquaintances.

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  16. I agree with the idea that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I’m very growth oriented and very spiritual and I want to be with people who are also moving forward in their lives. I don’t want to surround myself with people who aren’t growing or with people who are negative, victim-oriented or nasty. I like positive, fun, honest, conscious, accountable people in my close circle of friends. I also like friends who are focused on health, wholeness, nutrition and fitness as I am.

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  17. It is very important to choose friends and people you are around wisely. The type people you associate yourself with our who you grow a part of two. If you have negative people in your life their negativity will start to rub off on you and vice versa. This is a very important post.

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  18. I love this post πŸ™‚ I have a friend who I just cannot talk to that much because she complains about the same thing all the time. I don’t want to be like that! I have a feeling we’d be friends in “real” life as well as online! I am really sarcastic too lol. And am a bookworm, of course! Have a great weekend πŸ™‚

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    • I agree Christy! Perhaps we will meet in person some day, though I am thoroughly enjoying our virtual friendship for now.

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  19. I have a few close friends who have endured over the years, but I am essentially a loner–not that I do not like people–but I do prefer my own company and that of any pet I happen to have at the time. Know yourself is the best way to know if others will be right for you.

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    • I sometimes prefer the company of my pets too! You are right, to know (and be happy) with oneself is the best way to find the right people to include in one’s life.

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  20. Yes, it is best to choose time with friends who are going to support you and your family. Also, you want to be friends with people who aren’t toxic and with those who drag you down. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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