When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me, “You are who you spend your time with. Respect that, and respect yourself.”
But it wasn’t until I was in my early 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 like-minded. 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.
Ultimately, the people in your life make all the difference in the person YOU are capable of being.
And life is just 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.
Thus, it’s time to remind yourself of these…
Reminders to Spend Time with the Right People
- Sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary, just by doing them with the right people.
- The best thing you can do is to let go of what you can’t control, and focus on the things you can – like the people you choose to be around.
- You intellectually grow to be like the few people you spend most of your time with. So surround yourself with only those who are going to lift you higher.
- The right people for you are those who inspire you to be who you always knew you could be. Keep this in mind. Anyone who helps you make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through kindness, commitment and teamwork, is a keeper.
- A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your happiness, your other important relationships, your dreams, or your dignity. (Angel and I discuss this further in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Don’t listen to those who tell you exactly what to do. Listen to those special few who encourage you to do what you already know in your heart is right.
- Healthy relationships don’t just happen – they take time, patience and two people who truly want to work together to create something meaningful and lasting.
- What you give to another person is really what you give to yourself. When you treat people you care about with love, you learn that you are lovable too.
- The people you take for granted today may be the only ones you need tomorrow. Never be too busy to make time for those who matter most.
- Pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone, you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together.
Strategies for Nurturing the Right Relationships
If you feel like your relationships have been suffering, or if you hope to build new healthy relationships, read on. Angel and I have spent more than a decade working with individuals and couples through our course and coaching, and the three strategies briefly covered below are game-changers! I encourage you to implement them, gradually, one at a time, into your life. And if you need further assistance, we’re here.
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. (Angel and I build mindful relationship rituals with our students in the “Love and Relationships” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
3. 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.
Attending a life-enhancing conference together (live or virtual), and then mindfully examining and discussing it, is another related opportunity for working together on something meaningful. (Note: The title photo at the top of this article was captured at our annual Think Better, Live Better conference. Next February we’re hosting it in San Diego.)
If you’re up to it, we’d love it if you shared something you’ve personally learned about the importance of spending time with the right people.
How have your healthy relationships helped you?
Do you have any other thoughts or insights to share?
Please leave a reply below.
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