Think about the friends you spend the most time with and how you feel directly after seeing them.
Buzzing and elated, still smiling from something funny they’ve said? Inspired to try something they’ve recommended? Grateful they’ve been a good listener and helped you gain some perspective on a problem?
Or were you the sounding board for their latest life drama? Did they draw you into gossip? Criticise you, make you feel stupid? Or maybe you didn’t get a word in edgewise (again). Did they ask you for yet another favour? (Which is rarely returned.) Or did they flake out on you completely?
Research shows that the quality of your friendships is one of the most important factors in determining your happiness and overall mental health.
With family stuff taking up so much of your time and energy, you need to invest in the friendships that nourish you and spend less time and energy on those that don’t.
Think of your positive energy friends as your Radiators. They make your life warm and happy. The others are your Drains – leaving you deflated and exhausted.
Listen, friends don’t have to be positive and upbeat all the time (goodness knows I’m not!). Real friends are there for each other through the highs and the lows.
It’s more about recognising those friendships that really aren’t serving you anymore and actively spending more time with ones that do.
In Brendon Burchard’s excellent book The Charge, he suggests identifying your ‘growth friends’. I like to think of these as your Power Posse. The people you feel blessed to have in your life. They’re your partners in crime, your confidants – the ones you can tell anything to no matter how bad. The friends who leave you feeling supported, energised and uplifted, maybe with some great new piece of information/idea/connection. Focus on connecting more with them because they’re vital to your mental and spiritual health. They’re the ones who’ll help you grow.
Is your Power Posse looking a bit depleted? How do you attract more ‘radiators’ into your life?
Look out for those who give off a positive energy
You can see it in their face and body language. In the local playground, at the school gates, at the gym, in your yoga class - seek those who look happy and fun.
Strike up a conversation
Compliment them and ask where they got that great scarf/pair of shoes/yoga kit. Ask if they know where you could find a good orthodontist/hairdresser/babysitter. Or tell them about the great new find you just discovered. A true radiator will welcome your initiative and want to engage with you.
Be the friend you’d like to have
Invest – even when you’re busy or stressed. Show up! Be passionately interested. Listen and talk in equal measure. Exchange information. Follow up. Don’t always wait for them to call you – be proactive, stay connected.
The adage is true: You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. Even with limited time and energy we can take small steps to seek out the support group we need and make sure that we spend our precious time with the friends that nourish us. The truth is we can only develop deep friendships with a handful of people – so choose wisely.
In the comments below, let us know what you think. Has this made you more aware of the Radiators and Drains in your life? Share this with the great friends in your life and let them know how much you appreciate them!