Friday, March 21, 2014

The Company You Keep.

Perhaps you've heard it before, but you really are the company you keep.

I hear it often. People tell me that I'm awesome. And they're right. (What, did you expect false modesty? Because that isn't happening.) I am awesome, yes. But more important than being awesome is understanding WHY I am that way.

Here's the answer: I'm awesome because I have purposely and specifically placed myself smack dab in the center of a group of amazing human beings. I have sought out, cultivated, and nurtured relationships with friends that expect nothing less of me.

In other words, I have surround myself with awesome people and work every day to rise to their level.

Just a few of the amazing people in my life.

What about you? What forces influence you?

Let's start with an easy source. Facebook. People love it, people hate it, but everyone seems to be on it. And it has become a part of most people's routine.

What happens when you log on to Facebook each day? What do you read in your newsfeed? If you're me, you read post after post from truly wonderful people doing what they can to have another great day. There's silly pictures, clever banter, and a lot of motivating and inspiring words that remind me to get out there and have a great day.

Of course, I live in the real world with real people, so not every post is good. Bad things happen and friends struggle with problems. Sometimes, they share those problems. Maybe they need help to find a solution or maybe they just need to vent. It happens, and both of those things are just fine.

But there is a difference in a person working their way through a tough time and a person who wallows in the negative. There is a difference in a person temporarily upset and a person who is always angry at the world. And there is a difference in a person who needs comfort and a person who is a black hole of emotional need.

I share these distinctions because I think people can get caught up in the negativity of others and not see the damage it does. It's so easy to read negative post after negative post, your mood getting worse and worse until you find yourself trapped in that same crappy mood.

Fortunately, there's a solution. Pay attention to what is coming from the people around you. Look for the positive, the upbeat, and the happy. Celebrate it when you see it. Notice the kindness of others and spread it around. Share the songs and the photos and the stories that make you smile. Be the positive force of nature you want to see in the world.

It doesn't mean dumping friends in need. It means helping them find a reason to smile, even if it's just for a moment. It means leading as an example, avoiding the temptation to see everything in the world in the worst way possible. It means not giving in to the anger and stupidity running rampant.

So, log into Facebook. Catch up with your friends. Join in the silliness. Be quick to laugh and slow to judge. Choose compassion over criticism. Choose happiness over anger. And choose to lead as an example. Believe me, the rewards are so worth it.

P.S. Thanks to my circle of friends for consistently bringing joy to my life. You help me be the person I want to be, and the ripple effects of that are truly amazing.