Only give your time and attention to those who earn it. There’s an old saying that tells us that we become like the 5 people we spend the most time with.

If this is true — which it is — it’s a signal to be discerning and “picky” with those whom we give the gift of our time and attention, which is exactly what it is.

A gift of immense value, as it is finite and cannot be recovered after it’s given.

If you find yourself feeling held back, stagnant, or generally just “meh,” a great thing to do is take inventory of the types of people you’ve been spending time around and ask yourself how they might be affecting your mood.

Let’s explore the types of people who should be getting the gift of you:

1: People who (genuinely) want what’s best for YOU.

This is trickier than it sounds.

People who truly care about you will support whatever it is that makes YOU happy, whether or not THEY understand (or even support) it. Your happiness comes first in your life. They don’t need to “get it,” or even to like it.

2: People who’re around you for WHO you are, not for WHAT you can give them.

A deep level of self-awareness is required in order to be honest with yourself about who genuinely enjoys being around you, and who is simply looking to have some of your shine spill over onto them.

The more successful, happy, in love, or fulfilled you become — this may get harder to discern.

Precisely the point of this article, though…to help you spot the real ones.

How can you tell?

Look for the people who reach out and ask how you’re doing. The ones who reciprocate your invitations, not just accept them. The ones who get together “just because.” The ones who don’t always expect you to pick up the tab. The ones who want nothing from you but your time.

Deep down, you probably know when someone is enjoying the benefits of your friendship and not reciprocating, and your high levels of self worth and self respect will help you to move on from those people and make space for the ones who deserve you.

3: People who inspire you.

Back to the first line of this article — and how you become like the people you spend the most time around.

This is equally applicable in all areas of life: Dating, friendship, work, and even family.

Take an uncensored look at the people in your life — what are they pursuing? What goals do they have? What drives and motivates them?

How do you feel when you’re around them?

Naysayers and doubters will always try to wedge themselves into your life, but you mustn’t allow it. You must only reserve your mental space for those who make you feel better about yourself, who open your eyes to your strengths, who are, themselves, pursuing the things that set their souls on fire as well.

Energy is contagious, don’t get wrapped up in the wrong kinds.

4: People who are honest with you.

Anyone can tell you the things you want to hear. They can gas you up and tell you to just keep doing what you’re doing and that everything will be just fine.

Most people who do this have genuinely good intentions. They probably want to protect you and your feelings, or perhaps they just don’t know what else to say in the moment, so they stick with the same old lines.

The problem with platitudes like this is that they’re just…benign. They don’t help to give you clarity, and at worst, they can actually be harmful. What if you really do need to start or stop doing something in your life but the people around you are too afraid to tell you, so they let you spiral into a negative situation?

I believe that the people from point #1 will also fall into this category, because wanting what’s best for you means being HONEST with you, even when it’s hard.

And, if you really do value the truth, you’ll feel gratitude for the people in your life who give it to you, even when it’s not exactly what you wanted to hear.

5: People who are authentic.

What does it mean to be authentic?

We usually utilize this word to describe a product, or an item, or a piece of art. It’s an authentic Monet.

When you hear this word, it signals that you know exactly what you’re getting. The subject is purely itself, unaltered, not a copy, and genuinely an original.

The same rings true for an authentic person: You know exactly what you’re getting.

They don’t change their personality based on who they’re around, they don’t filter their thoughts to make people more comfortable, they don’t make you question who they really are — because they are always the fullest version of themselves.

Being authentic takes work. It requires a person to be fully self-aware, to look in the mirror and see what (and who) is truly there.

This means that authentic people recognize each other, because this level of inner work is rare, and it sets everyone who’s done it apart from the crowd.

6: People who respect you and your boundaries.

Sometimes, you just need a break. Or, some space. Or, to have a difficult discussion with a friend about something that’s troubling you.

It’s important to surround yourself with people who respect your needs and wants, and who will listen to what is truly best for you. They won’t override you, or continue doing things that bother you, or take your needs as personal attacks on them.

If you express a concern to a friend or disagree with them about something, it shouldn’t be grounds for argument (unless…it is). It should instead be an opportunity to hear each others’ opinions and consider them, even if you don’t agree with them.

If someone keeps overstepping your boundaries and doing things that make you uncomfortable, even though they know this is how you feel, it’s time to ask yourself if they actually deserve your time and attention.

7: People who give more than they take.

The last thing you need in your life is an emotional vampire — someone who sucks all of the energy out of you without giving anything in return.

You don’t need that in your dating life, in your friend groups, or in your family.

You don’t need it at work, and you don’t need it at home.

What you do need, is to be around people who willingly and selflessly show up from a place of service. They look for ways to bring value to your life, to support and encourage you, to be there when you need them the most.

And — you need to be this type of person for them in return. Not because they expect it (they shouldn’t), but because you are willing to show up for them the same ways that they show up for you.

This is what makes relationships work — two people who are willing to give to each other without expectation of something in return.

Imagine what your intimate relationship and all of your friendships would be like if everyone you were surrounded by had these qualities…

Sure, it’s hard to find, but that’s why it’s natural for your social circles to become more focused over time. Quality over quantity.

It’s not about having the most friends — but the right ones.

The ones who respect you and your boundaries, who want to see you truly happy, who you enjoy giving to just as much, because their happiness is valuable to you as well.

You don’t need a lot of people in your life to be happy…just the right ones who love and respect you for all of the right reasons