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Your selection of friends be they supportive or weighing. Smart, funny, depressing, spiritual, or just plain insane. Choose wisely as this will go a great way in defining your life experience
As I mentioned on Monday, this weekend was my high school reunion. It was a rare chance to be in a large group of people having conversations that you may not have planned on. On a daily basis we are generally surrounded by a select few people. The key word here is ‘select’. Who does the selecting? That is the key point here. I found myself a few times in conversations that were rather uninspiring to say the least. I had not really noticed how much my circle have friends has changed, or to be more correct evolved as my pursuit of a more successful and rewarding life has. If your goal is to lose weight, you would not make it a habit to hang around people who have issues of over-eating. Consequently, if your goal is to live a life with more optimism, more direction, and more determination, you should make a point to befriend and spend time with people who if not have those very qualities, but at the very least will hold you accountable. So take a good look at your current circle of friends, is there someone who is always a ‘Negative Nancy’? Someone who always says “woe is me”. Limit your exposure to people who limit themselves, because inevitably they will end up limiting you. Now I can hear you saying “I would love to Neil, but they are my friends!” I can respond to that by offering you two very important pieces of information. First, if you do not value your own well-being over that of someone else’s hurt feelings you are not going to continue to evolve in life. Now, you don’t have to be mean, ditch your friends all together. In fact, I always recommend trying to get them involved. There are people I have the pleasure of speaking with on almost a daily basis and I have enlisted their help in accomplishing my goals. All you have to do is make yourself accountable. I have said to a friend of mine, “Kim, every time we chat, ask me how the book is coming or ask me how the writing went” Not only does it hold you accountable, but your friends play a key part in your success, which fosters a feeling of gratitude within you for the friendship. Thus, the friendship becomes stronger. Now, back to our negative nancy example. If you say, “Sandra, I am trying to build a more optimistic outlook, so if you hear me sounding negative can you give me a reminder?” that may work in one of two ways. One, your friend may develop a more optimistic outlook themselves by assisting you. If so, great. They may also go with the Debbie downer aspect and say things like “OK, but it won’t work” In this case you don’t have to comment on their negative attitude or even try to fix it. Just run like hell! maybe not literally, but let this be a red flag. Now if you are still concerned with limiting or even eliminating negative people from your life, you can start by adding positive people. Think of the area of your life you wish to work on. Weight loss? Find a friend who is a healthy eater, sticks to their workout routine, or even just has a very encouraging attitude. Finances? Find a friend who is good with their own. Start spending more time around them. With adding more positive influences, the negative ones with naturally fall away. So, take a look at your current circle of friends. are there some you could benefit by spending more time with? Some you could do with spending less time with? Then make up your mind and begin to pick your own posse!
At first glance this may seem like a paradox. After all, how can negative thinking be anything but…well negative? Let’s face it, positive thinking can empower us to do a lot of things. Being positive minded 100% of the time is not only unrealistic, but not very healthy for growth either. I would say a good healthy mix is 95/5. So why are negative feelings so ‘good’ for us. They can serve to vital and very important purposes. First, they let us know what is not working. There is something in our life that is currently not meeting our standards. Why is this important? Let me explain it with a situation we can all relate to, going to the doctor. Why do you go to the doctor? The answer usually is “because something is wrong”. Noticing this means you have had bad physical feelings. Whether they are nausea, pain, or some other not so pleasant feeling it let you know something is not as it should be. If you are anything like me the very next question to the doctor is “How can we make this go away?”. That leads us to the second great thing negative feelings can do for us. They can motivate us into action. In the case of the doctor visit, to do what actions are necessary to heal our condition. The same holds true for any condition in life. If we notice something in our life is causing us a noticeable amount of grief, get excited! Excited about grief Neil? Are you crazy? Well, yes I am crazy, but here is why you should get excited. Our bodies are designed to use feelings as warning signs. Such as pain so you don’t leave your hand on the hot stove, or nausea so you don’t keep drinking the expired milk. These may seem like a pain at first, after all who likes to burn their hand? Yet if we didn’t have the pain we could leave our hand on the stove until it cooks right off. Interesting thing is our minds do the same thing. Ever wonder why certain things make you feel sad or angry. That is our mind and spirits way of telling us something is wrong with them. It is a warning sign, just like the burn on the hand. We must decide what is causing this upset and act to correct it. Now here is where negative emotions can be a double edge sword. When trying to discover what would work to eliminate our discomfort we must think in a positive, solution oriented frame of mind. For example, I had a friend who had recently given her all into a relationship that she felt had true potential, but when push came to shove the man she was in a relationship with did not feel the same. I heard her utter phrases like “I’m never going to get into a relationship again, that way I won’t get hurt again” Haven’t we all felt this way at one point or another? I know I have. In this situation she was willing to sacrifice all the pleasure a healthy relationship could provide her to escape the pain of another possible unhealthy one. This may seem like a solution on the surface, but what it really amounts to is giving up. If there is one thing you don’t want to give up on it is your own life. So make negative emotions our servants, not our masters. Let us use them for clarity and motivation, but not dwell in them. So next time you find yourself upset, remember the positive power of negative thinking!