Do the people in your life inspire you to live your best life?
You may have friendships or relationships that feel comfortable because they are familiar, but closeness doesn’t always equate with people who inspire positive growth. The motivational speaker Jim John says, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.” It’s important to consider the influence of the people closest to you, as it turns out – they have a big impact on your well-being.
Positive Social Cues
For many of us, there’s a dearth of stimulating social cues and support that facilitate healthy behavioural changes. In the distant past, people came together as a tribe, clan or community to survive, forage for food, and stay safe. Today we don’t need a tribe to ensure our basic survival, and so we live separate lives. Because we have stopped relying on people in the same way, we have also stopped fostering a strong sense of community.
What are positive social cues? The term refers to people who motivate us to live our best lives. It refers to regenerative relationships that support your evolution. The bottom line is that there’s real science behind social, emotional and behavioural contagion. Research suggests that our social relationship impacts our mental and physical health, health behaviour, and even mortality risk. (1) So I want to show you an exercise to take stock and explore ways to curate your social circle.
Steps to foster an inspiring social circle
Step 1: Make a list of the people you spend most of your time with
This can also include people who you interact with regularly, but don’t see in person. List them in order of how much time you spend together. This includes people you are in frequent online contact with too.
Step 2: Ask yourself two questions about each of the people on your list
“Do they inspire me? Does the very act of seeing or thinking about that person motivate me to move in the direction of the changes I want to make in my life?” Inspiration awakens us to possibilities. Psychologists Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J Elliot propose that inspired people tend to be more open to new experiences, and experience absorption in their tasks. They are reportedly intrinsically motivated and armed with psychological resources like self-esteem, creativity and optimism.
Step 3: Based on your answers, you can begin to curate your social circle
See if you can spend more time with the inspiring people on your list to make stronger connections. If there’s a dearth of inspiring relationships in your life, look for physical and virtual environments that harbour inspiring people. You need to have repeated experiences over time with someone to form a relationship, this is key. If you’re sharing experiences with inspiring people who are doing the things you aspire to do, you’re more likely to be ‘cued’ by them. This triggers your brain’s implicit decision-making centres to move in the desired direction.
What about the people in your life who aren’t inspiring or nourishing? These are possibly relationships that make you feel anxious, stressed, or stuck in unhealthy patterns, and behaviours. If you can, spend less time with these people. This isn’t always possible of course (thanks to some of them being family members, coworkers, etc.). So in those cases, see if you can change your relationship with them a little bit by recognising that those people may be dealing with some instability in their lives. Practice sending them some kind intentions using a loving-kindness meditation and see what comes up: “May they be happy, may they be healthy, may they feel safe, may they be balanced.” (2)
Once you begin to curate your social circle, you can make a conscious effort to build connections with people in the physical or virtual world who inspire the changes you want to make. Again, in curating your circle – the simple question is: “Does this person inspire the changes I want to make?”
I’m so happy to give you this exercise, it’s made a big impact on my life and the lives of thousands I’ve worked with. If you’re interested in making an even deeper impact now, nothing beats a structured immersion. Life is based on the decisions we make and a simple decision like this could change the course of your life.
The people closest to you have a big impact on your psychological and physical well-being but closeness is not always synonymous with people who inspire positive growth. When it comes to living our best lives – our social environments really matter. An inspiring social circle makes for positive social cues. Scan physical and virtual environments that harbour inspiring people. Taking stock of your social circle and curating an inspiring social network can impact your well-being.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.