“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
? Jim Rohn
If you’ve been paying any attention to our blog over the past few months we’ve mentioned our friend Thanh a time or two. Marc and I met Thanh at a conference in Las Vegas some years back. We hit it off as friends almost immediately – there was lots of synergy between our interests in personal growth and in expanding our entrepreneurial business ventures. The vibe was great from the get-go. But what Marc and I didn’t realize at that time was the immense, long-term productive impact our relationship with Thanh would have on our personal and professional growth.
With Thanh’s support as a friend, Marc and I have launched successful coaching courses, recorded valuable interviews, redesigned our website, and more or less supercharged our ability to make a positive impact in the world – which happens to be our #1 goal at all times.
The bottom line is that Thanh is a part of our tribe, and we’re extremely grateful to know him. I’m sure you have people in your life that you feel a similar way about.
Only Some People Lift You Higher
As my mom used to say to me when I was a kid, “You are who you spend your time with.” It wasn’t until I was in my late-twenties that I fully grasped what she was trying to say to me. I learned the hard way that the people you surround yourself with either lift you higher or bring you down – they energize you or drain you – they support you or criticize you – they make you smile or make you cry.
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, or call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. You need a small group of people in your life that lift you higher.
As Anaïs Nin so profoundly said, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
So right here, right now, make it a goal to spend more time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded. Remember that relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. When you free yourself from negative people, or simply the wrong people, you free yourself to be YOU – and being YOU is the only way to truly live.
It’s all about finding your people! That’s the one thing you should know…
The people in your life make all the difference in the person YOU are capable of being.
A Relationship’s Effect on Your Happiness
Your mindset and outlook in life is the most important thing in determining your level of happiness, but your relationships with others can drastically support your happiness quotient. Most people don’t realize the impact the type of people they surround themselves with has on their overall well-being.
Over the past decade, Marc and I have interviewed and coached thousands of people from around the word, and we’ve spent a great deal of time studying the factors that play the largest role in these people’s happiness. One of our key findings is this: the close, loving relationships people have with others is vitally important. The happiest people we’ve worked with live very close to family (or even with family members) or have close friends nearby (and many have both). When Marc and I realized this several years back, it really hit home with us as we had been living far away from close family and friends for several years. Since then, we’ve moved home to Florida so we could be closer to our loved ones. We wanted to surround ourselves with people who loved us, supported us, and believed in us, and we wanted to be able to do the same for them.
Simple Tips for Nurturing & Building Your Tribe
If you feel like your relationships have been suffering, or even if you feel tribe-less, rest assured in the knowledge that your tribe is out there. In addition, if supportive people already surround you, remember that there are likely many other members of your tribe that you have not met yet.
Here are five simple relationship-building tips that have helped us over the years:
1. Learn to enjoy your own company.
Ironically, the prerequisite to building healthy relationships is being comfortable when you’re all by yourself. If you’re starting fresh, with a minimal number of friends in your immediate vicinity, the reason for this is obvious: spending time alone is your only option. Likewise, if you have friends that have been dragging you down and negatively impacting your life, withdrawing from them and starting anew will likely require a bit more alone time.
Appreciating solitude starts with the conscious awareness of the freedom it brings. When you enjoy your own company you don’t need others around for the sake of having others around. You can be flexible about who you choose to spend time with, instead of letting your fear of being alone suck you into social situations and relationships that aren’t right for you.
2. Make time for the important people in your life, and be 100% present.
The healthiest relationships are comprised of two people who are intimately familiar with each other’s evolving stories. These people make plenty of emotional room for their relationship, which means they sincerely listen to each other, they remember the major events each other have been through, and they keep up-to-date as the facts and feelings of each other’s reality changes.
The key thing to remember is that nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention – your full presence. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of the next event is the ultimate compliment. It is indeed the most valued gesture you can make to them, and it arms you with the information you need to truly know them and support them in the long run. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Nurture your tribe by helping others achieve their goals.
Be a facilitator of healthy relationships. Connect people in your social network who have common interests or missions; give them access to the information and resources they need to connect, and let them know that you’re available if they need further assistance. What goes around comes around.
4. Work together on something meaningful.
If there are one or two people you already know who you would like to strengthen your relationship with, try to find a way to work together on something that intrigues both of you. You could plant a communal garden together, or meet once a week to complete unfinished projects – such as a writing, painting or website project. Working with others on meaningful projects can help you strengthen your bonds with them.
5. Put yourself out there.
Do what Marc and I did as it relates to meeting Thanh – attend a live conference with inspiring, likeminded people who are striving to be their best selves. If you need a recommendation with this, we have great news, on January 9, 2016 we’re taking our lessons learned in this arena and bringing them to life. We are hosting a live conference in Austin, Texas (and Thanh will be present). The conference is titled Think Better, Live Better. I guarantee it will be the right time and place to meet the right people, and set into motion a group of positive rituals and relationships that will change your life.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Wrong things happen when we trust, and give too much attention to, the wrong people.
Do your best to associate primarily with positive, sincere, motivated people who you can learn from and who will not drain your valuable energy with uninspiring attitudes. By developing and nurturing relationships with those committed to constant improvement and the pursuit of the best that life has to offer, you will have plenty of company on your path to the top of whatever mountain you seek to climb.
Have you been making sure the people you surround yourself with are good, kind, and honest people? Which of your important relationships deserve a little more of your time and attention? And who is draining the energy and spirit out of your soul (that you need to let go of)?
Mull over these questions for a moment, and then leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
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Photo by: Carmelo Raineri