Step 1 was 30 days without television. If that seems too tough, no problem. We’ll have others.
Today’s step isn’t easy either. Take the Friend Inventory.
You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
I don’t know the origin of this statement, but I’ve seen it on blogs and articles by Penelope Trunk, Alexandria Brown and many more.
So go ahead…do it. Keep a log of who you talk to every day.
At one point in my life, my 5 people were
(1) To be friendly, I’d stop to chat with my neighbor, who would say, “Life is hard.”
(2) I’d take my dog out for a walk, only to be greeted by a fellow dog owner with, “Did you see the news today? The world is going to hell in a handbasket.”
(3) An acquaintance who whined. She kept talking about what was missing in her life. She didn’t make enough money. She couldn’t afford to go away for a weekend.
(4) An acquaintance who kept saying, “People who are in my field don’t make a lot of money.’
(5) A friend who would say, “You don’t want to run out of money when you get old. And from age 50 it’s all downhill.”
Okay, these folks were not the only people in my life. But I did see them quite a bit and collectively, their influence was hard to avoid.
And to make things worse, there’s a vicious cycle. As you get dragged down, you become someone to avoid. You have even less likelihood of enhancing your life by spending time with folks who inspire you.
When you’re caught in this trap, you may need radical surgery. You may have to relocate geographically. Forget what everybody tells you about how people are the same everywhere. They aren’t. Psychologists find that proximity is the single most important predictor of friendship. A new city will force you to encounter a whole new group of potential friends.
But if you can’t move, you have to take strong steps to change the way you spend time. You may need to hire resources who can counteract the effect of your negative environment. Take courses. Find a new gym. I’ve met people who changed churches and stopped seeing family members. I won’t be the one to advise you on these steps but maybe somebody should.