“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” – Helen Keller

My mom used to tell me there is a big difference between acquaintances and true friends. I like to say there is a difference between the people who are good-hangs and our ride or die partners for life.

The ride or dies get us through the tough times and are there to celebrate our best moments. We laugh and we cry, quite frequently at the same time.

When I was a kid, we used to call our very closest pal our BFF, for Best Friend Forever. That was back when we only had one best friend and nobody else could come between the two. Ever! Unless one of you moved away, liked the other’s boyfriend, or decided they needed to upgrade their position within the social hierarchy—all legit reasons.

If, for any reason, our BFF position became available there would be an open enrollment period where other gals could apply for the highly coveted role. Of course, a shadowing period was required before any official announcement could be made regarding the change in status.

Today, we call them besties, implying more than one best friend exists. We have learned best friends change throughout the different phases of our lives, and that there is no reason to limit ourselves to just one.

RELATED: What if I’m Just Not Meant to Have Ride or Die Friends?

This week I took some time to take inventory of my relationships including my best buds. It is important to me that my friends are supportive of me and I support them right back.

Here are some things I like to think about when considering how to be the best, best friend ever.

1. Boost Their Confidence

One very easy thing you can do immediately to help your girlfriends is to boost their confidence. It’s not difficult, and you can do it immediately. Just give your friends some compliments. Both men and women love to hear their hair looks nice, you dig their shoes, or that they are sporting a nice smile.

I don’t wait to be impressed by someone before offering adulation. I go out into the world purposefully intending to find things to compliment others on. It spreads light and joy into the world and in turn surrounds me with gratitude.

Compliments are a shot of dopamine because people are often too busy focusing on the negative in their lives instead of the good things the universe is throwing their way.

Selfishly, if my best friends are filled with joy than I am more apt to get some of that back.

We are our sisters’ keepers. Make sure your friends know you think they are amazing.

RELATED: Friendship is Easy With You

2. Give and Accept Support

There are a couple of ways to offer support. The easiest to check off the “being a good friend” list is to simply listen to their struggles and repeat phrases like, “I know, girl. You should not have to deal with that. That is horrible. I’m so sorry.” It may sound as if I am asking you to be insincere. I am not. Our friends just need us to sit next to them and listen as they unload.

That’s how you treat most of your friends, but for the ride or die levels, we need to step it up a bit. We need to support them by actually doing things to help them out.

A BFF may do any of the following:

  • Pick up her kids when she’s in a bind–even if you are sort of in a bind, too.
  • Go see that movie you aren’t really into just because your bud wants to see it.
  • Meet her at the gym after her workout with some juice or a protein shake.
  • Buy every single thing her kid is selling.
  • Facebook stalk the dude she’s into and get CIA-level deets to make sure she’s safe.

Do not forget to encourage her to accept help, as well. While you are at it, maybe ask for and receive a little help yourself, friend.

3. Share Ideas For Managing Stress

Has your best friend ever turned into a manic lunatic making random accusations against her daughter’s school friends? Are you sometimes unsure if either she has not slept in a couple of days or if her drinking is more serious than you thought?

Best friend code says you let it go for a week or so but then step in if she is unable to get herself together.

Take your girlfriends to yoga, meditation, or a kickboxing class. How about walking the trail or going to one of those trampoline courts that are supposedly for kids? They are so much fun. Take a kid or two with you, then ditch them and have a good time with your gal pals.

There are so many healthy outlets and ways to deal with stress. Close friends can see when we need to let off some steam before we can.

RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it

4. Get Honest

Having someone who can be flat-out honest with me is monumental. It means the world for somebody to tell me like it is even when they know I’ll be annoyed.

Once one of my guy friends told me I had to “trim a couple.” That did not sit well. I am certainly not endorsing that type of candor. We are women, and we all know where the lines are, right?

Call each other out when you see things straying off course. A more realistic example is, “Hey. Why are you being so mean right now? What is going on?” BFFs understand our pals are just trying to ensure we are being the best versions of ourselves.

5. Be Their Biggest Cheerleader

Be there to encourage your friends throughout all their endeavors. Whether they are risking it all and swinging for the bleachers on a new business venture or trying to lay off the vino for a minute. Make sure they know you are right beside them and are proud of the work they are doing and the choices they are making.

Having a no-wine Monday? OK, me too.

Perhaps you have noticed they need to loosen up a bit. Go dancing. It’s Prince night at the clubdrag their butt out and have some fun together. Bring the rest of the crew and whoop it up. Think out of the box and get out of your comfort zone. Together.

I believe it is very important for us to continually push past our fears toward personal growth. This includes how we have fun. It brings a greater sense of purpose, lowered cortisol levels, better immune function, and more efficient sleep.

RELATED: Life is Too Short for Fake Cheese and Fake Friends

6. Practice Acceptance

Finally, I would like to discuss acceptance. I know it sometimes feels like you and your bestie share the same brain, but the truth is no two people on this planet are the same. We all think and react differently so it is crucial to have your friendship exist inside a judgment-free friendzone.

Be accepting of your friends and be open and willing to hear what they have to say about their choices and beliefs. Even if we do not agree with everything. When we listen without prejudice we are able to learn new ways of looking at our own beliefs while gaining clarity and conviction.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Brooke Collins

Brooke Collins is a professionally-trained Wellness Coach living in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Her passion is working with women who are overwhelmed and helping them get clear on their priorities by making them accountable. This holistic approach allows her to target the mind, body, and spirit so they are in-sync and able to become the best version of themselves.