The world runs on a busy schedule, and it expects us to do the same. The distractions of sound and screen make it easy to fall into seclusion, but we know that spending time with others nourishes a deep inner craving. The fact is this: we’re all made for love. And love, the longing of the heart, is found in friendship.
Like anything important and worthwhile in life, a friendship requires dedication and effort on our part. There have been days when I didn’t want to haul my body out of my room to go hang out with friends or to join an outing they organized. But I notice that my evenings have always felt lighter and more fruitful if I’ve had dinner with a friend or talked with a group of guys before I turn in. This type of socializing and sharing of experiences is uniquely human. It makes us who we are, and without it, we feel less than who we are meant to be.
The people we surround ourselves with have an impact that helps mold our character, our mannerisms, and our mentality. Not only do we have to be conscious and responsive to the needs of our friends, but we should also open our eyes to see if our own friends are returning that goodwill. Here are some things to consider when you’re evaluating the role your friends are having on the direction of your life.
We take after, and even subconsciously mimic, the characteristics of those closest to us. If we regularly surround ourselves with a person who always has something negative to say about everything, then soon enough we will find ourselves caught in the same mentality.
For the longest time, a close relative of mine constantly had something negative to relate on virtually every topic under the sun. While that relative has since changed their perspective to a more positive one, I still find myself often having a negative outlook on things because of that association. It’s not the best habit to get into, but once a habit is formed it takes twice as much energy to undo it.
Flip this logic, though, and it’s easy to see what a blessing it is to find friends who actively practice virtue. Virtues are, quite simply, good habits — like being tidy, timely, positive about our work, or open to the suggestions of others.
When you befriend someone who displays virtue, it’s going to start to rub off on you. Virtuous friends shape our interior lives. They build us up and contribute to our mannerisms and our outlook on life. Without them, it becomes much more difficult to see what is good and pursue it.
When you make a decision to intentionally shape your way of life and grow in virtue, it’s easier than you might think to seek out friends to support you. One of the virtues that good people display is hospitality and a sense of welcome — it’s an aspect of their selflessness and generosity. The virtuous people I have met and bonded with have always been open to pursuing a relationship with anyone who comes into their life, and it’s inspired me to do the same.
For example, I have a pal from college whom I met in my dorm. He tries to connect with everyone on a personal level and is always on the lookout to provide moral support to those who might be wandering. Whenever we got together, he would invite passers-by to join our conversation or simply to enjoy the food he cooked.
Ultimately, the strength to pursue virtue over the long-haul comes from God. This is how faith sustains us — it connects us to the source of goodness. Building relationships with others who take that faith seriously helps us better respond to God’s voice in our lives. And once we start on that journey of faith, we’re called to display the same welcome and hospitality to others because that selflessness is a foundational virtue. What’s there to lose? Being open, sincere, and hospitable makes us better people and better friends to others.
Friendships that nourish faith are like other relationship — they require attention and intentionality. We have to devote time, energy, and resources to show our friends we care about them. The beauty of growing in a relationship with a faith-filled person is that they make it delightful and simple. They are always trying to involve you, to make sure no one is left out.
So, if you’re serious about becoming a better person, find people who display distinctively good habits. Work toward building a relationship with them. You’ll notice a gradual change in your life. These friendships will increase your happiness and brighten your disposition, and they’ll bestow on you a deeper understanding of love.