The other day I had tea with friends, and I felt great afterward. It wasn't the caffeine or even the awesome quiche. My friends are great people! It's not just that they're fun to hang around with (though they are); I mean great people. The kind of people I admire. It's energizing and thought-provoking to be around them.
When I thought about it afterward, I realized...
A) that applies to all my friends, not just the ones who were there (and to my husband, too, actually), and therefore
B) I've kind of done it on purpose (Not, you know, in the New Year's resolution sense of purpose, but I naturally want to spend more time with people I look up to), and
C) I should have started sooner! Wouldn't that be great advice for elementary-age kids: "Make friends with those whose character you admire"?
Since I'm not a very outgoing person, I don't have a zillion friends--but my friends rock. They're generous with time, gifts, help, whatever (case in point: recently I mentioned I was sick and someone brought chicken soup to my door in minutes!). They're hard-working and they get a lot accomplished, yet they also take the time to celebrate and to build relationships. They're educated and thoughtful, even visionary.
Come to think of it, they have the qualities I wish I had more of. While I'll never be as diligent in my work as M, as funny and warm as L, and so on, it's nice to be reminded that I can try. (What do my friends see in me? I think they think I'm organized--ha!--and they sweetly tolerate my tendency to give advice without being asked.) Admirable friends are motivational posters you can call for advice, or just call to mind for inspiration. They're different from the far-off heroes of history books and documentaries because they talk with us. They respond to us.
I recommend this friendship strategy to everybody. If there is too much drama in your friendships, you're befriending people who are too dramatic. Stick with people you like, trust, and respect.