"Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art."
- Miguel de Cervantes
1. Everybody is not qualified to be your friend. I know you've all heard the saying "One man's food is another man's poison." Well, it applies here. As much as some people seem "fun" and "exciting" to others, they may not be made up of the fabric required to maintain a solid friendship with you. Pick your friends cautiously. Before you add someone to your friend list ask yourself this question "Would I want my child (present or future) to have this person as a friend?" If the answer is no, then DON'T have the person as your friend.
2. All friendships should be mutually beneficial. Another favorite saying of mine is "Quid Pro Quo" - You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. The values that you expect to get from your friends (loyalty, trust, generosity, compassion, understanding, etc) are all the same qualities you should embody as a friend to others.
3. Listen to your parents. As much as we try to fight the truth, our parents really do know a thing or two about life. They've gained and lost friends throughout the decades and with each situation garnered more wisdom along the way. Include them in your friendship matters, you'll be surprised how essential they'll prove to be. It's even hard for me to say it but my mother has been right in most cases when it comes to the hit and misses I've made with friends. She's spotted the kind, humble, loving friends I've had, as well as the malicious, vindictive, and bitter ones that I was blind to.
4. Friendship is work. As with anything in life (relationships, career, spirituality, etc) when you grow lazy it suffers. I know life gets busy but try to stay in constant communication with your friends. Check up on each other. Support each other's goals and ambitions. Correct each other's mistakes. Pray together. You have to actively put in effort to maintain strong, positive, and effective friendships.
5. Have inspirational friends. Surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like. It could be the healthy lifestyle they maintain that impresses you. Or the positive, happy, and long-standing relationship with their mate that you admire. Or the way they manage their finances. Or their strong connection to God and spirituality. Whatever it is you desire in life, seek friends that have already attained it. Many times this will mean friends that are older than you because as research shows, the older people get the wiser they become (hopefully).
Feel free to comment if you agree, disagree, or feel there are any other important guidelines I've missed. Later!