If You Want a Better Life, Choose Better Friends
Emotions and attitudes are contagious, so be careful who you spend your time with.
We’ve all heard the words,
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. — Jim Rohn, motivational speaker
But what does that really mean?
A year of pandemic life has taught me many lessons. One of which has opened my eyes regarding what I’ve allowed others to dictate about my life. When the world stops and your interaction with others — family and friends you used to see regularly — halts, you come to realize who had positive effects on your life and who did not.
Who you spend your time with — who you listen to, watch, admire, study, allow to influence your life in any way — affects your identity because those people you’re exposed to most are who influence your decision-making, thoughts, habits, and behaviors.
The good news is that you get to choose who those influencers are in your life.
Begin by thinking of the five closest people you surround yourself with as your chosen mentors for your life’s success. There are close to eight billion people on this planet so you have lots of options on who you permit to influence you. You owe it to yourself to choose wisely.
There are people in this world and in your life who will hold you back — either directly or indirectly. There are also people in this world who will encourage, support, and help you to live authentically while focusing on achieving your dreams.
It only works to dream big if you purposely surround yourself with the people who will help show you how to achieve those dreams as well as direct you on which tools will work best for you.
Do you want to write a New York Times best-selling novel? Choose to surround yourself with those people who have done it, are doing it, are learning how to do it. Join a writing community and get to know other writers who are accomplishing the same goals you’ve set for yourself.
Do you want to be a successful artist who paints and sculpts? Choose to be influenced by artists who are doing this. Study how they became successful. Reach out to them and ask for advice. Make connections and start building those relationships.
With the immediate access the internet grants all of us, it is possible to learn from those whose success you want to copy. With social media, online courses, and apps like Clubhouse, people have the ability to connect with masters of a multitude of crafts, experts in thousands of different careers, successful entrepreneurs from around the globe, and experienced authorities and professionals of all sorts of fields.
Choose your surroundings in order to secure your success.
Don’t leave it to chance when you can actively choose to have people around you that will hold you to a higher standard, who will encourage you to keep going, who will help dust you off when you fall, and help you move forward toward the next step or goal.
This is why it is not simply your genetics and DNA that determine who you are. Your environment — how you grew up, whether you had close family or friends, were abused, exposed to religious beliefs, and so much more — determines your inner dialogue which in turn affects your decisions throughout life. And the sum of all of these factors determines who you become in this world.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to know what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals, if you’re not proactive about surrounding yourself with people who want it for you as much as you do, your success may very well fall short or not happen at all.
The people you choose to surround yourself with may not enjoy seeing you change from the friend they knew and were comfortable with into something different — even if it’s better for you. People can easily get caught up in their own little worlds and rely on those things (and people) that are familiar and easy — including certain friendships.
Maybe no one ever told them that real friends allow each other the space they need to grow into badass human beings while cheering each other on.
Consider what you want to achieve and choose the most positive, encouraging, helpful, and honest cheerleaders, peers, and mentors who have either already accomplished all or part of your dreams or who have these attributes to influence your decision-making and attitude.
Your brain is like a sponge and whatever you allow in there — through the things you see, hear, and experience — your mind will soak up automatically. Don’t choose to drown it in negative, fear-inducing influences. If you do, your dreams and goals will suffocate under overwhelm, frustration, anger, and ineptitude.
So consider who you allow in your life and especially into your tribe. Because these people are the keyholders to a lot of what you allow into your thoughts.
Like breeds like.
You see this everywhere. A group of gossipy moms is tearing down others’ parenting skills — or lack thereof — and suddenly the newest person in the group is carrying on as well. So many of us still want to fit in with the pack.
Negative behavior is also contagious — yep, just like a cold, or the flu, or an STD. Think about that the next time a group of people are complaining, or gossiping, or raising pitchforks up into the air. Do you really want to join in on such contagious buzz?
Hearing negativity day after day can wear down anyone to feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, defeated, angry, and insecure. It’s hard to fight against all these heavy, fear-inducing feelings especially when those around you have plenty to share with you. So keep your distance. You’re not required to hang around whoever happens to be near you, or is related to you, or knows your mom from high school, or has a daughter in your son’s class.
Everyone has that one friend or family member or acquaintance who you dread spending time with because she always has some major trouble in her life that she wants everyone else to fix for her. Or she’s an incessant complainer — about everything. Or she won the lottery, but she’s depressed because her kids keep asking her for money now. Or she lost her job, but it’s her kid’s school principal’s fault for some reason.
Like breeds like.
Run as far from people like this as quickly as possible every chance you get. Avoid them like the plague. Their energy is toxic. Don’t let them influence even a minute of your time, thoughts, ambition, or attitude.
But don’t worry. A similar contagious effect can happen when you’re constantly hearing and seeing positivity, joy, encouragement, compassion, and kindness — all things that feed success.
You simply need to cut the toxic people from your life and embrace those whose positive energy. Hold tight to your family, friends, and acquaintances who make you want to rule the world and conquer your goals. These people are your tribe.
When the world turns back to some semblance of normal and folks begin getting together and visiting with one another again, there will be some individuals that I will not allow back into my small circle — my most influential circle, my tribe. I’ve learned I’m a much happier, productive, and fun person without their energy regularly pressing in on me.
There is energy attached to everything and everyone. Choose to participate in the good sort of energy rather than the bad. Choose to swim among those with positive vibes with the understanding that their positivity is contagious.
You get to choose who you spend your time with. So why not choose people who will help you be successful, live a better life, and become the best version of yourself possible?