The Ultimate Friendship Test 

“When you go to a friend with a problem and if you walk away from them feeling lighter, then they are a good friend.”

The sign of a good friend is that after you sit with your friend, you feel uplifted when you leave the friend. Your problems should appear very small. Then that is a good friend. If you go and sit with somebody, talk to them for half an hour, tell them your problem and when you come out of there, you feel heavy and feel your problem has become much bigger than what you thought, then that is not a good friend.

A real friend is one whose company uplifts us; an untrue friend is one whose company brings us down

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

4 Qualities of a Good Friend

1. I’m here for you!

Not demanding anything from friends, and telling them I’m here to support you is the key. Just believe in one thing: what you need you will get. The giver is somebody else, so don’t demand love. When you demand love you are destroying love. So you should never demand love or attention from people. If you are there only to give love and attention, then anyone will feel comfortable with you. But if you are expecting something then you are putting people in a very uncomfortable position.

You can’t say this to everybody, but intelligent people who understand this can make their way. Tell your friends, ‘I’m here for you’, I don’t want anything from you other than friendship. That will make your friendship long-lasting. When you come from that space, do you think your friend will not help you? They will help you when you need help. Not one but ten will come to help you.

2. Quiet Kindness

When you do something good for them, don’t keep on talking about it. Don’t keep reminding them of it. How do you feel when someone helps you and keeps on telling you about it all the time? You feel nauseated, isn’t it? You want to get away from them. Nobody wants to be under obligation, so don’t make people feel obligated. Don’t make people feel small. Suppose you have done a lot of good to somebody, then sometimes ask them for something, a little help like taking you to the railway station or airport. Some small things, so that you maintain the self-respect of the other person as well.

There are people who do a lot of charity but they rob the other person of self-respect. That is not good. One gentleman came to me and said, “I have not taken a dime from anybody, I have only given to all my brothers and friends. I have done so much but nobody wants to be with me, nobody wants to meet up with me, nobody wants to talk to me. This is strange, I never wanted anything from anybody.” I asked him, “Did you ever ask them to do something for you?” He replied, “Never, and I asserted that I wanted nothing from anybody.” What happened? He put down the self-respect of people. When self-respect is in danger, nobody wants to be with that person.


You may feel it is very confusing. On one hand, I am saying I don’t want anything from them, and on the other hand, I am telling you to ask them for something to keep their self-respect intact. That is the skill. These are completely two opposite positions. Keeping the self-respect of the other person is number one and second, not demanding anything from them. So, first firmness, then humility.

3. Giving Space

Your mother many times says: ‘Get lost!’. If you really did get lost, imagine her state! She will have a heart attack! Don’t give too much importance to words. Learn to see beyond the words.”

Many times you say something but you don’t mean it, right? What if people hold on to your words, and don’t see beyond your words? Would you like it? You don’t. You want them to see beyond your words. Do you do that? Not much. Do you hold on to their words? You don’t like others to hold on to your words. You want them to see beyond that, but you hold on to others’ words. You don’t give them that benefit of the doubt. What they are saying, may not be really meaning it. You know we have spoiled many friendships like this. Haven’t we? Hasn’t it taken a big toll on your friendship? Because we hold on to what they say. We don’t see what is beyond that.

Those who are just connected with words, with people, are not good friends. They’re very superficial. It’s very fake. You know someone may come and say: “Oh, thank you, I like you so much”. But you know if you are a little sensitive, you know that they are saying something only as lip service. It’s superficial. You are intelligent. You know this. You recognize this is not authentic. This is the sign of a civilized cultured person. What? They just don’t log on to someone’s words and harp on them.

You know, your mother often says: “Get lost!”. If you really did get lost, imagine her state! She will have a heart attack! Don’t give too much importance to words. Learn to see beyond the words. Think of a hungry person who is looking at food, and just bouncing to get food. And think of those who are dignified people, who don’t mind even fasting a day or two. You know, in the attitude, there is a big difference.

People are either hungry of emotions, they are hungry for recognition, they’re hungry for things that they don’t even know, what they’re hungry for. And so they behave, they say things which they don’t even mean. But why don’t you give them a little space? Accommodate them. It’s okay, they will grow up. What happened? That will save your mind. You know, this is our mantra: save your mind at all costs. If you save your mind, you can win over any situation. So give that benefit of doubt to people if they say something, don’t log on to their own words and hold on to them and hold it against them. It’s okay. You have made a mistake. Let them make some mistakes, never mind. You will see. You will be a good friend, and your friendship will only grow.

4. Brave Friendships

Brave are those who nurture friendships for only friendship’s sake. Such friendships will never die nor become soured for it is born out of one’s friendly nature.”

Examine your friendships, they are often for a cause. There are several reasons for your friendships: 

  • You make friendships because you have common enemies. 
  • Fear and threats to survival can bring people together. 
  • You make friendships because you have a common problem. You talk about your problems and become friends. For example, sickness, job dissatisfaction, etc. 
  • People get together because they have common interests. For example, through business or a profession (doctors, architects, social workers, etc.) 
  • You make friends because you have common tastes. You have similar tastes in sports, movies, entertainment, music, hobbies, etc. 
  • People become friends because of compassion and service. Out of compassion and pity for someone, you become friends with them. 
  • People become friends merely because of long-term acquaintances.

Brave are those who nurture friendships for only friendship’s sake. Such friendships will never die nor become soured for it is born out of one’s friendly nature. Only through wisdom can one become friendly by nature.

Soft Strength: Learning from Noodles!

Be friendly in your disposition. Do not assert your own ego by saying you have never taken anything from anybody or don’t want anything from anybody. It may be true, but you should not come out like that. Saying, “Oh, I am so humble”, is not humility. Dignity with cordiality: Many people who are very dignified keep aloof. They are not warm and cordial. People who are warm and cordial don’t have dignity. They just look so mushy and wiggly, like noodles. Just imagine noodles all joined together, you can’t even take it in a fork, it’s like paste. That is of no use.

Noodles are a good example. They are soft, yet separate, not mushy or hard. That middle path: cordiality with dignity, this is the secret of friendship. Whenever a person is down, uplift him or her.

Would you like to work with somebody or be with somebody who is irritable all the time? Who is egoistic all the time? No. Who is nasty all the time? Do you have these things? Better you examine yourself. Are you egotistic, are you nasty, are you irritable to others? If so, meditate. Come back to the mantra: a few minutes of meditation when you do. You will see, there are friendly vibrations from you. And people love your company. And you would love to make more friends.

“When you are friendly, the whole world becomes your friend. Everybody turns to you.”


In the company of your friends, you lose your centeredness. Your enemy puts you back in yourself. Your friend sympathizes with you and makes you believe in matter. Your enemy makes you feel helpless and takes you to the spirit. So your enemy is your friend and your friend is your enemy!

Krishna said to Arjuna: One who is unfriendly everywhere (including himself); his consciousness is stable and awareness is established.

A Friend is an Enemy and an Enemy is a Friend.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar