Dylan (not his real name but this is his real story) is a 24-year-old from western Brisbane who was vaguely unhappy with his life. He realised he was drifting, didn’t have a focus and wasn’t achieving anything. He enjoyed time with his mates at the pub and at parties, he attempted a few courses and casual jobs but just felt aimless. He was having fun but felt lost and dissatisfied with life.
Dylan was raised in a good home with caring parents and his brothers and sisters were doing really well in their chosen paths. Dylan couldn’t work out why he was the odd one out until he realised he had surrounded himself with friends who liked to party, were drifting in life and didn’t have a focus – exactly like he was.
Once this realisation hit, Dylan looked around at people his age that he admired and set out to make a whole new set of friends. He didn’t stop seeing his ‘old’ friends but as Dylan was gradually influenced by his new ones, his old crowd slowly drifted away.
We often drift into friendships unintentionally but I would like to suggest that our choice of friends is even more important than the choice of our career paths, for these four reasons.
1. Our friends influence our destiny.
Never underestimate the significance of friends in our decisions and actions. Just as bad friends can lead you into trouble, good friends can inspire you to make better choices. Good friends are friends that are good for you.
2. Good friends inspire you to become a better person.
If we are surrounding ourselves with good role models, then it will rub off subconsciously and consciously. For example, if we see that our friends are donating time to a charity, picking up other’s rubbish, or have a sponsor child on their fridge, we will be thinking about how we can help others and the world around us.
3. Good friends are good for your health.
Researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide found that people with a large network of friends outlived their counterparts by 22%. That’s a lot of years! You may not be thinking about how to extend your life at this time but the happiness that comes as a result of having good friends can be enjoyed now. Surrounding yourself with friends who make healthy choices will benefit you at any age, but the blessings increase exponentially as you become older. Studies have found that having good friends and support systems boosts chemotherapy effectiveness, improves cancer outcomes, and results in longer life after a heart attack. A study by Mayo Clinc staff found that good friends can even result in being a healthier weight with a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).
4. Good friends give good advice.
Good friends shoulder your problems and care about the outcome. The advice they give will be honest and have your best interest at heart. It may be hard to hear but when you know they care for you, their advice is invaluable. Good friends are a gift to enjoy in good times and a source of wisdom during challenging times.
What does a good friend ‘look’ like?
Common characteristics of a good friend are people who will support you, be sensitive about your feelings, laugh with you but not at you, and treat you with kindness and respect. A good friend will model good behaviours, inspire you to be a better person and be with you during good times and bad.
How do you find good friends?
Finding good friends at school can be easy and challenging. If you are looking to move to a new friendship group which will be better for you, then it will be easy to find them at school because there are so many. The challenging part for many may be to cope with the peer pressure of your old group. There is no need to hurt their feelings, just choose to spend less time with them and more time with people who will be better for you in the long term.
Widen your search for good friends to outside school. Invite your neighbours over for a barbeque, join a sporting or hobby club, find a local church or youth group, and make a whole set of new friends!
Making good friends means being a good friend. If you have been used to a group where put-downs are a common form of communication, then you will need to change how you speak to your new friends. If you want friends to be with you in good times and bad, then you need to be a friend who does the same thing for them.
The best advice about good friends
There are thousands of articles, books and blogs on friendship but I believe the wisest source is from the Bible. God created us to be in friendship with himself and each other and there is profound wisdom in the Bible about friendship. Here are a few for you to ponder as you think about your friendship choices.
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Proverbs 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.
Proverbs 13:20 Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.
Mike Curtis, Principal