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The Importance Of Positive People (and why negative friends make you unhappy)

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”― Alice Walker

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”― Alice Walker

Do you surround yourself with “drains” or “radiators”? Positive people who give you energy or negative people who bring you down? Here’s why it’s time to do a “friend inventory”.

The Framingham Heart Study wasn’t set up specifically to study emotions. But with over 5000 inhabitants of Framingham, Massachusetts signed up for the on-going study, scientists have been amassing a wealth of continuous social and medical data since 1948.

It came up with fascinating findings in 2010 that suggest emotions are as infectious as diseases, and (more importantly) that sadness is more infectious than happiness.

They found that having a happy friend increased an individual’s chances of personal happiness by 11 percent, while just one sad friend was needed to double an individual’s chance of becoming unhappy.

This means that negative influences are going to be a lot more powerful than positive ones, which is why it’s crucial that the positive people around you heavily outnumber the negative ones in order to support your own positive outlook and therefore your own change process.

Now do a “friend inventory”

Take 10 people you have the most contact with and rank each of them on a scale of 0-10 (0 being very negative and 10 being highly positive).

Add up the figures and divide by 10. This average score should be well over 6. If it isn’t, it means you need to do some rebalancing so as to introduce more positive people into your life, or mix more with your existing positive friends or family.

It doesn’t mean abandoning those around you who are unhappy, but for your sake it does mean creating that better balance. Positive people around you are inspiring, which is just what you want – and deserve.

This is a modified extract from I Just Want to Be Happy, by Susan D Smith and Adrian Blake. 

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