Let Go and Stay Joyful
As I get older, I am becoming more selective of who I consider a friend. I find that I would rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies. (Steve Maraboli)
It’s interesting that we come across different people in life, and we all say people come and go. It’s true that people come and go. People change, and you yourself change. I used to experience a sense of regret for spending time with people who don't share my values, or associating with individuals or groups whose values are not compatible with mine.
But as I grow and develop, and when I think deeply about this matter nowadays, those acquaintanceships or even sometimes friendships were meant to be there, so that I can associate or keep associating with people whom I know I can be with for a lifetime. If those previous friendships weren’t there, I would not learn. We all learn from mistakes, and so acquaintanceships or friendships that you have decided to let go of must have their good reasons to be there in the first place, even though they were let go of later. I think it’s important to cultivate a sense of gratitude rather than allowing that sense of regret grows into something negative or bitter as you reflect on them. If you are able to perceive that everything not only happens for a reason, but for a good reason, I believe there are some positive moments that you could derive from relationships that you decided to walk away from.
Sometimes if we are very eager to from new friendships—maybe if we are in a new place, or having a strong unmet need for support—we may make relationship decisions that we regret. I believe it is important to choose relationships with people who are kind, loyal, and patient. This is what I mean by being “picky!” This means that it may be necessary to say no to relationships with those who are not kind, loyal, or patient. Sometimes it is necessary to let go of unhealthy relationships too. So, “be picky!”
Notice the people who are happy for your happiness, and sad for your sadness. They’re the ones who deserve special places in your heart. (Author Unknown)
Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. (Oprah Winfrey)
Be thankful for all the difficult people in your life, and learn from them. They have shown you exactly who you do not want to be. (Author Unknown)
Quality over Quantity
Social support is a very important element of our well being. Many studies showed that people who report to have a few close friends are more likely to describe themselves as happy than those who have no close friends or less close friends. However, I find that the benefits are associated with the quality of social relationships (Demir, Orthel & Andelin, 2013; Demir, Orthel-Clark, Ozdemir, & Ozdemir, 2015).
Most people do not have time and energy to maintain a hundred high quality, close friendships! It is better to have just a few friends who show special care or understanding.
There are some people who could hear you speak a thousand words, and still not understand you. And there are others who will understand—without you even speaking a word. (Yasmin Mogahed)
In life, surround yourself with those who light your path. (Author Unknown)
The friendships that you allow yourself to be in, or the people whom you allow yourself to associate with, say something about you. Be careful with your choices. Be around with people who reflect your kindness, values, beliefs, principles, and morality. If you would like to reveal your true potential, it is important to associate yourself with people who support and encourage you to become who you are.
Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. (Rachel Wolchin)
We’re all social beings who need social connections to survive and thrive. We all have a need to belong! From my perspective, though, the key is healthy relationships: relationships that strengthen your well-being and morality, generate positive, virtuous energy, facilitate love and care in a genuine manner, encourage open-mindedness, and practice humility, empathy, altruism, and compassion consistently. Energy is contagious. While I often encourage others and myself, not to absorb others’ bitterness and negativity, we are inevitably human beings, impacted by the social environment at times.
I love the following quote:
You must constantly ask yourself these questions: who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: is that okay? Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change. (Jim Rohn)
It is therefore important to have a consistent, stable, and positive environment that encourages us to learn and grow healthily. That’s the kind of social support that can really promote your physical and emotional health.
If a person always leaves you with mixed feelings, uncertainty and an unsettled mind, you don’t need to place your energy there. (Reyna Biddy)
Affirmation: I enrich my life when I associate myself with kind people who encourage and support me to become who I am meant to be.
“A long journey proves the strength of a horse, so it takes a long passage of time to know a man’s heart.”
I love this Chinese proverb. Most often, it is only time, rather than your first impression, that would tell you who a person is! It is time that reveals a person’s heart—whether or not he or she shares similar core virtues as you do and whether or not you could keep that person for a lifetime.
You may have had acquaintances, friends, or mentors whom you once thought were kind people, but as time passed, you learned their true personality, and you realized that their ways of being and acting are not compatible with your own. At first, it might come as a shock. But this proverb teaches us that it is not that shocking if you learn that it takes time, often a very long time, before you could discover someone’s personality. Most people engage in impression management, especially in new social interactions!
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. (Oprah Winfrey)
That’s not to say you should avoid people with negative traits altogether. No one is perfect! We are all imperfect! There are many places, occupations, organizations, and ways that would allow you to reach out and hopefully influence people in a positive way. I encourage you to give, to help, to encourage, to accept, and to praise other people, whether you are at home, at school, at work, or at other types of social gatherings. But similarly, you deserve to be cared for too!
What I am trying to emphasize is that the people whom you spend much time with reflect who you are and certainly can influence who you will become. You need a foundation that helps you grow and thrive, supports you to become who you are, and influences you in a positive, healthy way, before you could be healthy and strong enough to be a positive influence yourself.
If you have discovered that certain individuals do not share your values or virtues, gently let go of them. Your time and energy is very limited. Spend this limited time and energy with people who give you acceptance, kindness, and encouragement. This will help you thrive, and in turn will help other people thrive too!
I’m very picky with whom I give energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively to those who reflect sincerity. (Dau Voire)
A proverb that reflects the core of sociology. It literally means that “proximity to cinnabar makes you red, and proximity to ink makes you black.” That is, the environment that you choose to be in has great influences on you.
Love yourself enough to create an environment in your life that is conducive to the nourishment of your personal growth. Cultivate a vibrant surrounding and commit yourself to making choices that will help you release the greatest expression of your unique beauty and purpose. (Steve Maraboli)
Choose your core social groups carefully. Let time reveal the truth, and let your heart and mind select people whom you can associate with and keep for a lifetime. Be patient! Time is your amazing friend.
Be Friends with Those who Share Your Values
志不同，道不合, 不相為謀, or 道不同不相為謀，志不同不相為友。(Analects of Confucius)
"Birds of different feathers do not flock together." or
"People with different values can hardly work together or become friends."
Of course this is up to you. You can be friends with those who have completely opposite moral ethics and thoughts from yours, to expand your worldview or to have a really good debate! I personally still find that it’s healthy to have at least one or two persons in your life, who show genuine kindness and understanding, who share similar integrity, and who love and support you.
I am a much bigger fan of “Birds of a feather flock together” than “Opposites attract!”
Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness. (Euripides)
Extremely Intelligent People
A very recent, interesting study indicated that extremely intelligent people feel happier with less social interactions with friends (Li & Kanazawa, 2016). One of the reasons could be due to focussing on their bigger goals, such as fighting for human rights, writing a novel, or creating a new thing, and therefore not desiring social interactions as often! Intelligent individuals do not have much difficulty not socializing with their friends regularly. Indeed, extremely intelligent people feel more satisfied with their life when they have lower frequency of social interactions with friends!
Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of. (Author Unknown)
It is healthy for everyone to have a few friendships, provided that they are quality friendships! You are free to continue to expand your social circle too! There may be many kindred spirits that we have not yet met, many interesting conversations that we have not had, or many fun activities that we have not participated in! Knowing how to find a balance, between social interactions and achieving big goals, is important. It does not have to be an either-or situation.
It is equally important to enjoy time in solitude—to love and accept yourself when you are alone, to focus your energy and time on your goals and hobbies, and to be alone without feeling lonely!
Give and Receive
In any kind of relationships, give and receive! Don’t just be a receiver, and don’t just be a giver! Healthy relationships involve both giving and receiving. In this season of giving, it is a good reminder that people of all ages, including little children, enjoy giving presents to their family and friends! When you receive a present, be thankful! Presents can include objects, writing, time, attention, love, and care…
When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. (Rick Warren)
The most precious presents of all are time, company, and sincere help and understanding during the most difficult times of life. People who genuinely help know what you need and give what you need. They do not count how much they have given, do not use their help as an instrument of control or threat, do not ever brag about their kindness, and are consistent. Oftentimes, they don’t even remember their kind acts!
Remember, anyone can love you when the sun is shining. In the storms is where you learn who truly cares for you. (Author Unknown)
Arguments in friendships are inevitable. In the midst of arguments, remain gracious. Any kind of relationships need not vanish when there are disagreements. Friends can’t always have the exact same opinions or values over every single issue, so conflicts or disagreements are inevitable. Indeed, in conflicts, we learn more about each other’s temperaments and perspectives, leading to greater understanding, and deepening the relationship. I believe that being able to resolve conflicts strengthens friendships, rather than weakening them. Only strong friendships would go through conflicts and overcome conflicts. Acquaintanceships sometimes don’t even evolve to that level of intimacy. If there is love, arguments do not lead to less liking, but more understanding and a closer bond.
Having the opportunities to give and receive, to laugh at funny jokes together, to provide and receive encouragement and understanding… the reciprocity of healthy, genuine interactions is life-enriching.
Energy is contagious, positive and negative alike. I will forever be mindful of what and who I am allowing into my space. (Alex Elle)
I think we deserve people who really, really love us. (Alicia Keys)
Yes, I think you really, really deserve to have people who love you! Choose wisely.
Affirmation: I enrich my life when I cultivate healthy, loving relationships in my life.
Hold onto Positivity and Let Go of Negativity
In this season of love, no matter where you are at in your life, I encourage you to focus on people who sincerely love you, and whom you sincerely love. Recall and create positive memories: allow them to live in your heart, so that when you encounter people who behave bitterly towards you, you won’t become bitter yourself. Instead, you allow those loving moments to be you, and to shine through you. Set your eyes and your hearts on people who love you dearly.
Your life is in your own hands: you can choose to focus on genuine, loving, kind, and thoughtful people who keep you warm. When you are able to carry those loving and kind moments or people with you, you will then have more energy to spread kindness within you and around you.
Poor experiences can make your good experiences even sweeter. Negative encounters with incompatible people can make positive encounters with compatible people even more valuable.
The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes. (C. JoyBell C.)
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all. (Excerpt from Mulan, Disney)
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Excerpt from Winnie the Pooh, Disney)
Affirmation: I enrich my life when I choose love over bitterness, and express gratitude to those who genuinely love and care for me.
Demir, M., Orthel, H., & Andelin, A. K. (2013). Friendship and happiness. In I. Boniwell, S. David & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 860–870). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Demir, M., Orthel-Clark, H., Ozdemir, M., & Ozdemir, S. B. (2015). Friendship and happiness among young adults. In M. Demir (Ed.), Friendship and happiness: Across the life-span and cultures (pp. 117-135). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.
Li, N. P. & Kanazawa, S. (2016). Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness. British Journal of Psychology, 107(4), 675-697. doi:10.1111/bjop.12181