The Power of Your Surroundings: Part 1 of 2

We’ve all heard the advice to surround yourself with people you want to be like, be it attitudes, health, wealth, anything.  Afterall, you can’t soar with the eagles if you are surrounded by turkeys.  (I know I attacked cliches in last week’s posts , so sorry for the hypocrisy, just thought that was a funny one to throw in there!)  There’s a theory from some financial gurus that our income is usually the average of the incomes of the 10 people we hang out with most.  And motivational speaker Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  So, these folks insist, we need to choose the people we hang out with cautiously.
However, this is a difficult task. The people I hang out with most is family.  And when I worked a 9-5 job, it was colleagues.  Besides family, I do talk to other moms and friends- all fantastic people- but I do not feel in control of who I spend my time with.  They are all old friends or moms who happen to attend the same mom events I do.  I have ambitions to grow my net worth, so by this train of thought, I should be seeking company with high net worths, so I can learn from them.  But I can’t just pick new friends based on their net worth.  I also want to be more intelligent, more entrepreneurial, and make positive changes in the world, so to get the maximum effect of the company I hang out with, I should be seeking types like Mark Cuban, the Pope, and a bunch of geniuses.
Sounds like a great plan- the only problem?  I don’t know those people, and I do not know anyone’s net worth or IQ- or anything about them- before I get to know them.  So I find it hard to just “start hanging out with better people.” And it would be rude to have a pre-qualifier to friendship, as the conversation might go like this: “Hey, you seem cool, but before I hang out with you, do you by chance have a whole lot of money?  No, oh well, never mind, I’d prefer to never talk to you again.”
It is extreme and not wholly necessary.   I found this bit from Keith Hillman, BS in psychology, at http://www.psychology24.org/are-you-really-the-average-of-the-five-people-you-spend-most-time-with/ and thought it was the most realistic way to look at the subject:

“And in fact you shouldn’t actually consciously pick your friends either, but rather trust your emotions and your gut to help you seek out the people who are similar to you and who you have a natural connection with. That’s not just my opinion, that’s science. According to this recent study(http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/friends_are_the_family_you_choose) we actually share on average about 1% of our DNA with our closest friends. This is the same amount that we share with our fourth cousins. In other words, we are naturally able to find people who are more similar to us and who we share a connection: if you try to do that consciously though then it’s unlikely to work. Apparently this might actually have something to do with our sense of smell…

Then there’s the fact that having a diverse range of friends is actually very good for us. I have friends who have low aspirations and friends who have high aspirations – and they’re great for different things. When you just want to kick back and get drunk, the slightly less driven crowd can often be a little more fun! This way you avoid becoming too extreme in your views by making sure you get exposed to alternative ideas, and you become a little more open minded and less prejudiced.”
I love how science pinpoints actualities, making sense of every subject lucky enough to get a thorough examination by it.  Author and motivational speaker Allan Hamilton says, “People think of science as rolling back the mystery of God.  I look at science as slowly creeping toward the mystery of God.”
So according to this research, it’s natural to be attracted to some people, and not so much to others.   It’s also good to have a variety of influences.  Go by who you enjoy hanging out with, don’t leave anyone behind just because they’re not succeeding in your goal path.  But if you don’t enjoy their company because they are constantly negative, rude, or a bad influence- not just because they are going through a rough time- it may be best to move on to better pursuits.
Before you cut every single annoying presence off, (it could be everyone, at one point or another!) realize that you teach people how they are allowed to treat you- advice from good ole’ Dr. Phil.  Analyze the situation; make sure it’s the other person, not you, causing the problems.  You set the precedence, and if a relationship is not where you want it to be, you may just need to set boundaries with that person.  Good boundaries can transform relationships for the better, and it could be a positive relationship in the end. This is the most effective way to deal with relationships that are negative, but you cannot eliminate- co-workers, extended family, neighbors, etc.  Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend outline this beautifully in their book Boundaries.
Also, be honest to yourself: Do your negative feelings stem from your own harsh feelings about yourself?  As Carol Whtiaker, author of
Ridiculously Happy!: The Secret to Manifesting the Life and Body of your Dreams, points out,
“Do some people just drain the life out of you? You know, energy suckers? Believe it or not, they are direct reflections of the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. They are simply mirroring back to you the insecurities which they sense coming from you! Luckily you can change who is drawn to you and how people interact with you by changing the way you think and feel about yourself .”
It’s best to take a balanced approach, not just blame your lack of flourishing on your surroundings.  Your success is ultimately your responsibility; good luck on your journey to an awesome life!
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