How to Choose Your Friends Wisely | Self-Help Podcasts

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. Today’s podcast is brought to you by Book of Zen. If you are looking for some unique gifts for the holidays, Book of Zen offers a wide selection of casual clothing, phone cases, coffee mugs, fashion bags, and more—all of which feature Book of Zen’s signature enso and original quotations. Visit them online at BookofZen.com.

Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from the book Friendship by Hugh Black, published 1898.

Responsibility for our friendships is not confined to making sure that our influence over others is for good. We have also a duty to ourselves. As we possess the gift of influence over others, so we in turn are affected by every life which touches ours. Influence is like an atmosphere exhaled by each separate personality.

Some people seem neutral and colorless, with no atmosphere to speak of. Some have a bad atmosphere, like the poisonous odor of noxious weeds, breeding malaria. If our moral sense were only keen and true, we would instinctively know them, as some children do, and dread their company.

Others have a good atmosphere; we can breathe there in safety, and have a joyful sense of security. With some of these, it is a delicate environment, sweet, suggestive, like the aroma of wild violets: we have to look, and sometimes to stoop, to get into its range. With some it is like a pine forest, or a eucalyptus grove of warmer climes, which perfumes a whole countryside.

It is well to know such people. They put oxygen into the moral atmosphere, and we breathe more freely for it. They give us new insight, and fresh courage, and purer faith, and by the impulse of their example, they inspire us to a nobler life.

There is nothing so important as the choice of friendship; for it both reflects character and affects it. We are known by the company we keep. It is an in- fallible test; for our thoughts, and desires, and ambitions, and loves are revealed there. It also affects our character; for it is the atmosphere we breathe. It enters our blood and makes the circuit of our veins. Or as the old saying goes, “All love assimilates to what it loves.”

We are molded into the likeness of the lives that come nearest to us. It is at the point of the emotions that we are most impressionable. Our material surroundings affect us, but the environment of other lives, the communion of other souls, affect us far more potently. The nearer people are to each other, and the less disguise there is in their relationship, the more invariably will the law of spiritual environment act.

It seems a tragedy that people, who see each other as they are, become like each other; and often it IS a tragedy. But the law carries as much hope in it as despair. If through it evil works havoc, through it also good persists. If we are hindered by the weakness of our associates, we are often helped by their goodness and sweetness. Contact with a strong nature inspires us with strength.

Someone once asked the great clergyman Charles Kingsley what was the secret of his strong joyous life, and he answered, “I had a friend.” If every destructive person is a center of contagion, every good person is a center of healing. Goodness creates an atmosphere for other souls to be good. It is a noble garment that has virtue even for the finger that touches it. The earth has its salt, and the world has its light, in the sweet souls, and winsome lives, and kind characters to be found in it.

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