In his motivational speeches, late great basketball coach Jim Valvano would say that every time he talked to his father, he always felt better afterward than he did before. Valvano pointed out a key reason was that his father always believed in him, even if he failed.
But I think it goes a step farther. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously postulated that you become like the five people you spend the most time with. And controversial manospherian Alexander Cortes once made the point that energy is infectious.
Put those two ideas together and it not only makes sense on a higher level why Valvano’s father always lifted Jimmy V up, but how our relationships all around affect our mindset.
You are a conduit of the energy given to you by the people you become close to… not just friends and family, but everyone you choose to spend time with, including your coworkers and other colleagues.
If those people make you feel good (either intentionally or not), if their points of view and messaging are positive (whether intentional or not)… you in turn are going to feel good and be a more positive person.
If those people invoke negative feelings from you (either intentionally or not), if their points of view and messaging are divisive and negative (whether intentional or not)… you in turn are going to feel and be a negative person.
Your perspective is the sum of your experiences, and I don’t regret how my life has gone to date. But I only learned in the last year or so to exit any voluntary situation where the people around me cultivate a negative point of view or lifestyle.
It’s actually one of many reasons that, after I bailed on improv and theater in 2017, I havce since had no interest in going back.
It’s one of the reasons that, after having to leave my previous career last year, my life and outlook got a lot better even when my job and financial situation remained in flux for months.
It’s not necessarily that people in those communities chose to be negative. They had points of view and habits they may have believed innocuous or even productive, but in fact brought themselves down and brought down everyone else. In turn the work everyone did collectively stagnated with complacency and the collective obstruction of progress that sort of culture brings. Plus, to little surprise, a lot of them were very physically unhealthy, with no indication of improvement to come.
I ask myself, why do you want to be around people like that? Finally, I’m at the point in my life where I know to distance myself from any consistent connection with people who bring themselves and others down.
For example, I don’t go out at night much at all, and nowadays there’s none of the fear of missing out that may have compelled me pointlessly out the door on a Friday or Saturday night in past years. Most people are out getting drunk or high, lashing out at the world with a negative energy after a long week of lives they hate. Why engage that energy if it’s not necessary?
I’ve got other things I want to do and work on anyway. I like to get up and do stuff the next morning, and feeling tired and unwell the entire next day can derail that.
It’s not easy to break off friends and loyalties, and it’s certainly not easy to leave a job on the basis that it’s a negative environment. But having surgery isn’t easy either, and sometimes it’s necessary to save your health.
To a lesser extent, improving your diet and fitness requires shedding some long beloved habits, and working hard to adopt that new ones that don’t come easy.
Think about who you want to be, and think about whether the people you’re spending time with are positively contributing to the lifestyle and goals you want.