Friends. We all have them, but how did we become close to them in the first place? Proximity? I know that it is hard to have friends that live in China if you live in Oklahoma. Some of my best friends lived near me at some point in either high school or college. Common interests? Are we friends with people because we have something in common? What happens when our interests change? Do we remain friends?
Man…that was a lot of questions, however, I think it is important to ask these type of questions about our friends. It is vital, some would even say life-changing, to consistently evaluate our friendships.
According to capecodonline.com, people with a strong social network are more likely to survive a major illness such as a heart attack or cancer. Human companionship can also help reduce the effects of stress on the body, protect against illness, and help us heal when we do get sick.
The most important factor in friendship just might be their influence on you. Many people think of themselves as influence machines. Just imagine all of the knowledge, advice, and just plain awesomeness you impart on your friends. Research has proven otherwise when considering your inner circle of friends.
Todd Cartmell’s entertaining book Project Dad focuses on the differences between “Inner Circles” of friends versus “Outer Circles” of friends. Think of your inner circle as the people you spend the most time with…your Rat Pack, Super Friends, or even disciples. According to Cartmell, you must choose these friends wisely.
Typically you do not influence your inner circle, they influence you. Think about all of the inner circle friends you have had in your life, if they all went on a diet, you probably went on a diet. If they were all active in church, your would probably be active in church. Since you seek acceptance from your closest friends, you develop a need to accept the social norms associated with your inner circle…hence their influence on you (don’t worry, you influence them too if you are in their inner circle).
Your outer circle is where you bestow your influence. An outer circle includes everyone you interact with who are not in your inner circle. An outer circle could include your acquaintances at work, a distant neighbor, or even the UPS driver. You probably don’t care too much about their acceptance, so you won’t cave into their social norms.
Have as many friends as you want in your outer circle, but spend an extensive amount of time before you allow someone into your inner circle. I personally want friends in my inner circle who are positive, encouraging, motivated, and empowering. When I am around these people I too start displaying these traits. It is win-win for everyone involved.
Have you thought about the friends you have surrounded yourself with? Has it been a matter of convenience or do strategically surround yourself with people you aspire to emulate? What traits to you desire in a friendship?