Over the past few weeks, the universe has been telling me something everywhere I turned.
In my news feed, in the conversations I’ve had, in the books I was reading. It seems that it wants to drill home the very important fact of life that who you spend time with matters.
It has been something I have taken very seriously over the last two years. I have spent time and effort in untying friendships in my life that no longer grew me or inspired me anymore. Where I used to have a large circle of friends, now I only have a selective few who I would consider close to me and worth having in my life. I asked myself with each friend, “Do I want to be like them?” More often than not, I didn’t. As harsh as it seems, it was easy to unattach myself from these people, simply because I knew: the people you surround yourself with, you become.
What was quite a shocking brick in the face was what I read from Warren Buffet, one of world’s most successful investors and worth billions. For such a successful magnate, he was humble and wise. He said something that made me literally say, “Holy crap.” He wrote, “One of the best things you can do in life is surround yourself with people who are better than you are. High-grade people. You will end up behaving more like them, and they in turn, will get it back from you. It’s like a planetary system. If you hang around with people who behave worse than you, pretty soon you’ll start being pulled in that direction. That’s just the way it seems to work. Who you choose to associate with matters.”
Is it weird or normal that this scares the crap out of me? And that wasn’t even the scariest part. The most frightening read for me was when I came across the post by Barking Up The Wrong Tree about how your happiness is associated with the friends you have in life. Says Nicholas Christakis, professor at Yale University: “Across many different kinds of behavior: voting, cooperation, smoking, weight loss and weight gain, happiness… public health behaviors, we and others have been able to show that people are very meaningfully affected by the behaviors of other people to whom they’re connected. And here’s the kicker: they are also affected by the behaviors of people to whom they’re not directly connected. When your friend’s friends quit smoking or your friend’s friends friend become nicer and more cooperative, this ripples through the network and affects you. Similarly, when you make a positive change in your life, when you start running for example, or you participate in our democracy and you vote, it ripples outward from you and can affect dozens, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other people.”
It turns out that who you work with also affects you more than you think too. Bob Sutton says, “When you take a job take a long look at the people you’re going to be working with — because the odds are you’re going to become like them, they are not going to become like you.”
If I wasn’t serious about the friends I surrounded myself with before, I definitely was now.
The people you choose to have in your life affects your personality, your behaviour and even how your life turns out. Don’t settle for friends who don’t inspire you or encourage your growth in life. It’s just not worth it. I know how difficult it is to let go of some people who you love but you know aren’t good for you. But what would be even more difficult would be you not reaching your full potential, achieving your dreams or finding lasting happiness. Bad, stagnant friends can hinder all of that.
You can love them from a distance. But you should never compromise yourself or your future for them.
So choose your friends wisely. They can either help you get closer to your goals or divert you further away from it. Don’t settle for any less than the best kind of people. People who inspire you. Who are driven and motivated in life. And who encourage and support you in all your endeavours. They are the friends worth keeping, and worth spending your limited time and energy on. Even if you can count them on one hand, that’s all you’ll ever need.