Surround yourself with people who fill your cup of energy, not deplete it.
If I had to give one advice to those whom I love - my friends, my students and my family, it would be this quote above. It is so important to surround yourself with good people who are genuinely supportive and caring of you, people who are seeking deep, loving and lasting connections, people who will add to your energy, and not take away from it.
Why is this so important? Humans are social creatures and one of our most basic human needs is to form meaningful connections. Without this, we’d be lost, unfulfilled, lonely and sad, and then, there is the possibility of us gravitating towards the superficial and the unhealthy to fill this void. If we’re not careful, this behaviour could lead to negative outcomes that would impact us for the rest of our lives.
Have you heard of the “rat park” experiment? It was conducted in the 1970s by a scientist by the name of Bruce Alexander. In this experiment, some rats were kept in isolation and for others, a rat park was built. The rats in the park had many rats to play with and other toys for amusement and were free to move around.
Both sets of rats were given two kinds of water; one laced with drugs and the other just regular water. The isolated rats were immediately addicted to the drug water and died. However, the rats in the rat park, who were having fun and connecting with other rats, didn’t get addicted to the water with drugs and lived.
Bruce Alexander said: “When I talk to addicted people… I encounter human beings who really do not have a viable social or cultural life. They use their addictions as a way of coping with their dislocation… a kind of substitute for a full life.”
Just like rats and many other creatures on this earth, humans too, long to be with other humans and have well-established, meaningful and pleasing social lives, while feeling like they are a credit to their families and to their community.
This can be a challenge for many of us today, with individualist cultures being so rampant in large cities and very developed countries.
How do you feel when you’re alone with no one to talk to? You might feel alright with it in the beginning but after long periods of loneliness, you’re sure to crave human interaction and bonding that are based on trust and familiarity.
As humans, we are social beings by nature, but it is also important to remember with whom we choose to spend our precious time.
According to Jim Rohn, the five people you spend the most time with influence you the most. We might interact with many people, but the few who are closest to us have the greatest impact on our way of thinking and our decisions.
With some people, we’ll magically feel uplifted and lighter, but with other people, we may feel heavier. Some people carry joy and some people carry worry and fear. Some make you feel guilty, some make you feel good.
So when you’re out there living your best life and making meaningful connections, do remember to keep an eye out and examine your friendships and relationships to see how they make you feel.