The other day I came across the image above and that quote really struck me. Of course I don't want to be sad. I'd rather be happy with everyone, but, as we all know, that's not always the way the world works. When I read this quote, I really got it. I really felt it -- that realization that it's so important to surround ourselves with the right people. Sometimes the wrong people make us happy -- or, at least, we think they do -- but that doesn't mean they are right for us. It's probably pretty likely that if we're going to have someone in our lives in a significant way, we're going to experience happy times and sad times with that person so wouldn't we rather experience those things with the right people?
The people we surround ourselves with are so very important. Sometimes we become so used to and comfortable with the people in our lives that we don't stop to think about whether or not they are really positive influences. Over the past year or so, I've really been looking around me and trying to understand why some people are in my life and others are not. I've given a lot of thought to who I surround myself with because I really do believe that others affect us in ways we cannot necessarily recognize. Sometimes we are so close to others that we don't necessarily see them for what they are. Like being up close to a painting -- you might be able to see all of the colors, but you're not necessarily getting the big picture.
And the big picture is pretty important when it comes to those who are close to you. You need to be able to see them for what they are because, whether you want to admit it or not, they're influencing you. For that reason, you have to pay attention. You have to really take a conscious step back and assess them. This can be a lot harder than it sounds sometimes, especially when it comes to people that you feel very certain about. However, just because you are examining your relationships with others doesn't mean that those people are going to prove themselves to be bad for you. There's nothing wrong with taking a look around and assessing what type of impact others are having on you. In fact, it's pretty imperative if you're striving to have a positive life.
If you want to have a positive life, you have to have positive people in your life. So ask yourself this right now: Do I have positive or negative people in my life? Most of us, if we're being completely honest with ourselves, will find that we have a mix of both. It's pretty hard to have every single person in your life be a positive influence on you, especially when, in many cases (like work and family) we don't always get to choose every person we interact with. Yes, there are some situations where you will be required to spend time with someone who is more negative than positive, but, for the most part, we have a choice. Just as we can choose happiness, we can also choose to surround ourselves with those that make us happy.
I bet you're wondering how you know if you're surrounding yourself with positive people. Trust me, I know this this hard to figure out sometimes. It's so easy to just assume people are positive influences because, after all, you're spending them with them so you figure that you've made that decision for a good reason. Of course, we're not always as logical as we'd like to be. Sometimes our emotions (and imaginations!) get carried away and we are certain that people are good for us when they are not. Here are some steps you can take to evaluate the people in your life. (Yes, this might feel like you're judging, but don't you have a right to judge those you keep closest to you?)
Is That Person Good for You?
Step 1: Take a good look around you. So often we get caught up in life in a way that makes it difficult to really see what's going on around us. We begin to take the people in our lives for granted (in both good and bad ways) and we stop really seeing what's happening. Just think about how, if you drive to work every day, you take for granted the route you're on. If you do it every single day, you could probably do it without even looking. People are like this too. If you don't look around and really pay attention, you might miss what's really going on. So open your eyes and look at what's going on around you. And I mean really look at it. Don't just look at what you think is happening. Look at what is happening.
Step 2: Ask yourself (and others) questions. Having done a lot of work trying to change my life over the past year or so, I've come to realize that I really need to pay attention to who I surround myself with. For this reason, I've spent a lot of time asking myself questions about the people in my life. I want to know that they are positive influences on me. Now, I know there is both good and bad in every person so it's not always so easy to say, "Oh, this person is perfectly positive for me!" but there are certain questions I like to ask myself that really help me to get to the heart of whether or not a person is good or bad for me. I like to look at the people in my life and ask myself the following questions:
- Do I like who I am when I am around this person?
- Does this person make me happier or unhappier?
- What kinds of feelings does this person evoke?
- How would I describe this person in 5 words?
- How do your friends/family describe this person?
Step 3: Take a good look at yourself. While it might not seem like the most obvious thing to do, when you’re trying to uncover who is good for you and who is not, it’s important to look at yourself. Look at the person you are when you’re with that other person. Pay special attention to your mind and how you think and feel when that other person is around –- or even when you think about that other person. You can start right now! Think about someone very important to you and listen to how your mind reacts. Are you thinking positive thoughts? Are you angry or sad when you think of this person? Paying attention to how you feel and taking a look at the person you are when you are around or thinking about someone else is critical. You cannot truly understand another’s impact on you if you aren’t paying attention to the way that person makes you feel. Once you start looking at yourself and listening to your thoughts when this person is around you, you will most likely be able to tell whether or not this person brings out the best in you. If you still can’t tell… move on to Step 4!
Step 4: Keep paying attention. One of the most important things you can do when attempting to make sure that the people you have in your life are good for you is to keep paying attention. Sure, you might have done Steps 1-3 and feel pretty good about the person now, but people change and you change so it’s important to keep paying attention. Of course this doesn’t mean you need to be monitoring the person 24/7 or taking notes every time you are around him or her. This means that you need to pay attention to how you feel and have a general sense of whether the person makes you feel better about yourself. Positive people in your life should bring you up and make you feel happy. This doesn’t mean you won’t have conflicts with these people, but you should generally feel as if the people you surround yourself with are looking out for your best interest. Still not sure if you’re dealing with someone who is good for you? Check out Step 5…
Step 5: Get a second (and third!) opinion. While your opinion of the people in your life is very valuable, it’s important to ask around to see what others think. Sometimes we become blinded by various things (comfort, love, etc.) and cannot see people or situations for what they really are. For this reason, it’s important to get an outsider’s opinion (preferably someone who you’ve confirmed is looking out for your best interests). For example, if you find that all of your friends think your boy/girlfriend is bad for you, you’re probably not seeing the situation for what it is and you need to be aware of this. Getting input from someone who is removed from the situation will provide you will a fresh perspective and will allow you to figure out if you’re assessing the person (and the relationship with that person) properly.
After you've gone through these five steps, it should be pretty obvious whether or not a person is a positive influence in your life. If you have any doubts, I'm going to be bold and say that the person probably isn't good for you. As I’ve been looking around my own life recently, really try to find (and keep!) the positive people in my life, I’ve found that it’s really important to pay attention to who you surround yourself with because it can make a HUGE difference on how you live your life and how you feel about the life you’re living. Remember, no matter what, you have the power to keep or remove people from your life and you can really change your world if you rid your life of all of the negative people in it.
How do you determine if someone is a positive force in your life?
How do you handle a situation when you know someone is more negative than positive?