You are Who You Surround Yourself With

Remember all the cliques and labels from high school? How all the athletic kids were buddies on and off the field while all the punk rock kids listened to Nirvana on skateboards all weekend? If you don’t remember the insane amount of anxiety caused by trying to fit into a high school clique, you were probably one of the elite popular kids… congratulations (sorry about the rest of your life though).

But how does that happen? Do all the Nirvana loving kids have telepathy and instinctively know to hang out with each other? Or – and this is my theory – do friendships blossom naturally and gradually, you adopt the interests and some characteristics of the people you surround yourself with?

I think that the people you spend the most time with impact your life in ways that you can’t even detect. It’s almost like how a little kid picks up his older brother’s mannerisms. Except it tends to be on a larger scale as an adult.

If you surround yourself with friends who are constantly out at bars until 3 am, odds are, you will also be out at bars until 3 am – staggering half asleep into the office the next day. On the other hand, if all your friends are bookworms, you might end up staggering into work because “one more chapter” turned into finishing the book.

Of course, it seems logical that you would adopt the hobbies of your friends, but I think it goes much deeper than that. I think you also start to absorb the personality traits of those friends, your family and… the dreaded coworker. Oh yes, if you’re spending 40 hours every week with these people, you may very well be bringing some of them home with you. Did you ever catch yourself complaining about how much Nancy-three-desks-over complains about EVERYTHING? Because I have. It is a terrifying realization.

However, maybe we can use this to our advantage. After I realized I was adopting some of “Nancy’s” characteristics, I started to think of positive qualities that I would love to have myself and started reaching out to people that I’ve always admired for having these qualities. Maybe if I could spend more time with an exceptionally hard working, financially-savvy friend, she would be a positive influence in my life. And maybe if I reached out to my cousin who always loves learning new things and improving herself, her personality will help prevent me from becoming stagnant in my own life.

I believe that the number one factor influencing your quality of life is your perception. The person who feels blessed to live in a basement apartment will always be happier than the person who thinks her mansion is too small. But I also believe that the number one factor influencing your perception is the mindset of those around you. Happy people cause more people to be happy. Choose who you surround yourself with wisely, you may become more like them than you think.

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