…very, very carefully, indeed!
There are “friends”… and there are real friends.
The first type are often found through electronic channels, commonly within the category of social media (and some of them may be actual real, bona fide friends). But the second, and the only consistently genuine variety, as outlined here (click for more info), exist only in real life, within the actual physical world (remember that one? it’s outside your smartphone screen!) and NOT the virtual “world!” These are the ones who want to remain loyal to you forever, if possible.
So seek the companionship of virtuous friends, not just virtual friends.
Here is The Single Most Important Reason that you should choose your friends carefully:
You will become like them.
Over time, you will gradually (or even rapidly) change to behave as they do, adopt the language that they use, and absorb their habits, their mannerisms. No matter how this fact may be denied, it remains absolutely true. It may be only partially manifest in the early stages, but the more time passes, the more deeply the effects will penetrate.
Regardless of age, or personal background, if a person hangs around bullies, cheats, liars, or the like, then he or she will drift into that pattern of behaviour… one way or another, you will be influenced.
But conversely, hanging around more virtuous people will also rub off onto you!
In the past, when you hung out with a group of people, did you notice that you started using words and phrases that they did, talked a little bit their way, and maybe found that the same things that they thought were funny were funny to you, too? These small steps are just the beginning of a process that insinuates itself into your life, and shapes your character, often just below your consciousness.
Sometimes the pressure is more overt!
Just as you are what you eat (click for more info), and you are a product of your own thoughts (click to discover more), you are also going to become a reflection of the company you keep.
Therefore, it is vitally important to choose friends who share similar (but not necessarily identical!) standards as you, interests, compatible moral values, and so on. Your traits will reinforce theirs, and vice versa.
So associate with friends who will make you a better person. To do so, you firstly have to know at least something of who you yourself really are, to begin with.
Hopefully, your own individual path to self-realisation will be smooth and peaceful. It’s far smoother, with the right friends.
I certainly hope so, for you deserve a happy future.
Prof Ling 🙂