"Good friends are hard to come by." "Good friends are few and far between." "A friend in need is a friend indeed."

I saw a report on CBS Sunday Morning, my favorite TV news magazine, which stated that friends have a big influence on our level of happiness. That only makes sense you say. But as you grow older, the number of friends you have and the definition of a "true friend" changes drastically.

When you’re young, you have a whole circle of friends usually developed through your years of school. Then you go to college or into the "real world" and your friends are developed in your new environment. You get married and then you have "couple friends," "church friends," "work friends" and so forth.

Then there’s a turning point usually around your mid-40s. People get divorced, get sick, die, have troubles of all sorts, etc. Then you find out who your real friends are.

You can tell how good a friend someone is by how well they listen. I know that I have started several conversations with people and they immediately shift my topic to them. Damn it! I wanted to talk about me and you took my topic!

Here are few lessons I’ve learned over the years about friendship:

1. Learn to listen.

2. If you loan money to a friend, don’t expect to get it back. Best rule is to say, "I just don’t loan money to friends. It never works out."

3. Don’t call your friend to unload your built up frustrations. It’s OK to share your burdens, just remember to share the time.

4. Never get involved in other people’s marital or financial disputes. These can ruin a friendship, especially if one of the parties wants you to tell the other party something or ask you about something that one party may have shared with you. So how does a friend help a friend in these situations? See Lesson 1.

5. Don’t hire a friend or family member to do major work for you such as remodeling. This can create a long period of "not speaking."

6. Don’t make major purchases like a car from a friend. See Lesson 5.

7. Don’t tell friends how to raise their children unless they ask. See Lesson 1.

8. Don’t spend time "talking" about other friends. That’s called gossiping.

9. Don’t keep a tally of who owes what to whom. Unless it’s something friendly like lunch.

10. Tell your friend you appreciate them.

But back to CBS Sunday Morning. Scientific studies show that friends will help make you happier and help you live longer. That’s pretty potent stuff. For more information, there is even a friendship blog, a friendship doctor and a friendship book all written by the same person.

We have a group of guys who gather once a month. We call ourselves the "Gentlemen’s Supper Club." We have met for about three years. I always look forward to meeting with the club. It’s a good way to stay connected to other guys and the life they are going through.

Friendship can be painful as well: When you lose a friend to death or when you tell a friend that maybe we need to part ways.

So, cherish your friends. They will help you live a better life.

See you on the Boulevard.

Neal Moore owns a creative consulting firm, Neal Moore Creative. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. Contact him at neal.moore@sbcglobal.net. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter,@kneelmore.