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choosing our circle

Nothing can dampen the delight we feel after spending an afternoon with a good friend. It’s an unmistakable spring in our step. A smile spreads across our face when we remember the hysterical laugh or provocative question that lifted our spirit as we passed the time with someone who knows us so well. It’s like walking out of a good movie that stays with us long after the credits have rolled. We relish it because we know it isn’t always so. Sometimes, we all find ourselves with people who drain, rather than energize, us. Time with them leaves us depleted and wondering why we put up with the negativity that pours from their lips.

The good news? We can choose who we hang out with. They constitute our circles. Clint Swindall, a leadership coach and public speaker, suggests three important ideas to help us consider which circles we want to be a part of:

1. analyze your crew. We share a lot of life’s ups and downs with our friends; they must be people who both support and challenge us. Make a list of the people you feel best around.

2. filter out the negativity.  We all feel bombarded by bad news, nevermind a friend who sees the glass half empty. It’s okay to offer support, but we can limit how much time we spend in that sphere—and move away to preserve our own mental balance when we feel our energy dip. We don’t hesitate to back away from someone with a raspy cough, but we often feel guilty distancing ourselves from a draining or toxic friend. Don’t.

3. dedicate time to your relationships. We are all busy. But if you consider who fuels you most—and how great you feel after being with them— carving out space (yes, actually putting a date on the calendar) seems like a no-brainer.

These steps sound simple enough, but they can feel challenging to apply in our own lives. We wonder how to kindly pull away from old friends who tax us. Or we’re stunned how long it can take to schedule a chunk of time to catch up with your dearest friend. It might help to heed the wisdom of Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus, who was once a slave: “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” Swindall’s steps lead us down the path to feeling our best more often.

Your circle is yours to create. The fun you imagine for yourself—the joy you will feel as you jump off the pier with your most wonderful friends—is within your grasp. Dive in, and feel the rush of delight, the giddy smile, and the warmth of a full heart wash over you.


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