What type of people have you surrounded yourself with? Are they positive or negative? Is your life good when they are around or is it a drain on your emotions?

Negativity breeds negativity. You get to choose who your friends are and they can have a significant impact on how you interact in the world. Whether they are work friends, your neighbors or school acquaintances, your friends can have an influence on your attitude and behavior.

When I was in the military, I was hanging around people that always thought the supervisor was out to get them. They always talked about how the system was keeping them down, or who only showed up when they needed something. Whenever we would hang out, all we talked about was how to beat the man, how one person or another was facing disciplinary action for something, or they needed a ride to the store or wanted to bum a smoke. Back then, the majority of our discussions were drenched in negativity, and we all stayed miserable together.

Later in my career, I got orders to a new assignment in Texas where I met up with a great group of people. Troy & Family, Kris and the Boys (Shane, Lawrence, Scully, Jeff, Clint and a couple Brandons) all had a significant impact on my outlook on life. These people were a new group of friends and they had other things to do besides bitch and complain about all the obstacles life set in their ways. They are a group of people that are positive in their outlook on life’s challenges. They had a positive impact on my life and I learned some great life lessons from all these great people.

In comparing these two experiences, I realized I was profoundly influenced by the quality and caliber of the people I surrounded myself with.

Train yourself to evaluate your friends and the type on influence they have on your life. If they are negative all the time, do you need them in your life? If they are positive, what do you like about them and how are you bringing to the party?

I evaluate my friends constantly and pick out the qualities that I admire. I try to spend time with people that I want to be more like. You can turn yourself into a better version of yourself whenever you want, you just need the tools to do it. Follow the examples of the positive people in your life and you can become a better you.

For example, Troy hardly ever will speak negatively about anyone. I can recall a conversation we were having about a customer interaction he dealt with where he was called into a job to finish a difficult install. When he got to the jobsite, the customer had nothing good to say about the previous technician. Rather than trash his coworker, he reassured the customer that the technician is good and may just have run into a tough challenge. Troy doesn’t trash talk his coworkers and he doesn’t need to boost himself up by tearing other people down. I want to be more like Troy.

This is a great example of my point. I make an effort every day to be more like Troy in that respect and as a result I have chosen to be a better version of me by emulating a positive behavior.

Maybe it’s time you take a reflective look at who your friends are and get away from the negativity. You would do well to evaluate your positive friends and reflect on what makes them a good fit in your social network. Find the traits that you like and work on emulating those particular behaviors.

Evaluate your surroundings and make an assessment on the types of people you have surrounded yourself with. Are they cheerleaders or are they Negative Nancys? Do you have a support network or a bunch of negative attitudes bringing you down?

The toughest part about these questions is not wanting to acknowledge the answer. You may discover that your best friends may be poor influences on your life. The other hard reality is what to do with the folks that are bringing you down. Maintaining relationships with negative people can be a significant obstacle to you becoming a better you.

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