Positive Friends Are Good for Your Health—Here's How to Find Them

Updated 03/23/19

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Though there's scientific proof that friendships really do result in happiness, it's the positive and supportive friends who are the real gems in our lives. They're the ones who will rally behind you, offer a smile and a hug, and leave you feeling better about yourself. Ideally, we should spend more time with encouraging friends and less time cultivating negative relationships—but it's not always easy to determine when a friendship is toxic.

According to relationship experts, we should distance ourselves from people who are overly jealous, disrespectful, and critical—all behaviors that leave us with low-esteem. It's worth noting that there's a difference between a typically supportive and generous friend who just happens to be in a crabby mood and one who is consistently mean and rude. Look at a friend's overall character when deciding whether or not they're a good influence and reflect on how you feel after you hang out.

Curious about what to look for as you're judging the quality of your friendship? Keep reading for some of the top signs of good friends as well as exactly how they affect your well-being and how to ensure you're leading by example, too.

They Support You, No Questions Asked

With positive friends, you don't need to beg for help when you need it because chances are they will be there for you without asking. Positive individuals want others to be happy and will go out of their way to help you when you're feeling down or need some extra special attention.

By contrast, negative people celebrate the downfall of others, and as a result, you'll end up feeling worse about yourself or your situation. Friends who aren't positive will add to whatever amount of stress you are feeling.

They Bring Out the Best in You

Your positive friends will not only help you rebound from the negative hits you take in life, but they will also inspire you to be the best you can be. This means trying new things, achieving goals, and having the kind of life you dreamed of for yourself. Very often people have secret goals that they are ashamed of sharing with people for fear they'll be mocked.

For example, perhaps you always wanted to be a writer. Or you want to go back to school and get your degree. The negative people in your life will probably tell you all the reasons why you won't succeed. But who needs that? Chances are you have already gone over the reasons why you might fail and this is what has prevented you from trying. But with positive people in your life, you'll feel more comfortable sharing these types of goals because your friends will give you the emotional push you need to go after what you want in life.

Health Benefits of Being Positive

The more positive friends you have, the better able you will be at remaining upbeat and healthy—both psychologically and physically. As psychologist Kristen Fuller explains in Psychology Today, we're less likely to develop chronic illnesses like depression, diabetes, and heart disease when we cultivate close friendships, and pair of studies conducted by Michigan State University further back that claim.

How to Attract More Positive Friends

According to psychologist Suzanne Degges-Whites, most cultures value the following as hallmarks of good friendships: Trustworthiness, the ability to trust others, dependability, loyalty, and honesty. She writes in Psychology Today that assessing our own behavior is essential as we build healthy relationships and in turn, attracting positive people into our orbit.

It makes sense that you naturally draw in the kinds of friends who are most like you—so if you're a downer, you'll probably find that negative people flock to you. The same is true for being positive: The more you are able to maintain an optimistic attitude, the more like-minded people you'll attract in return.

In addition to determining whether we exhibit the traits above, Degges-Whites suggests asking yourself the following questions: Am I self-confident, a good listener, non-judgmental, and supportive of others? Do I see the humor in life and can I express and experience empathy?

The bottom line? Be the kind of person you want to spend time around—You'll have more friends without even trying.

Next, determine whether or not your best friend is actually your frenemy.

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