Can the surroundings and the people around you influence your thoughts and actions? Well, they do, and it happens without your control.
Let me explain with 3 scenarios. Most of you have experienced these in real life. So, when you go through each situation, try to recall your feelings and actions during those times.
- Do you remember how you felt at a funeral? Compare that with the feeling you had when you met your close friends at a party.
- Have you worked in a team where everyone focuses on making the idea successful? Compare that with a team that cribs about their boss and other team members.
- How did you feel when you met a set of friends who only talk about their problems in life? Compare that with some other friends who always discuss new ideas.
Most people experience discouraging emotions when they’re exposed to negative emotions.
In the first example involving a funeral, the emotions are understandable. Someone’s life ended so it’s only natural for people to feel grief and sadness.
Have you walked by a funeral? You would have felt the emotions affecting you even if you did not know the deceased person at all. I am not asking you to stop attending funerals. I am only explaining how the mood around you influences you irrespective of your current feeling.
In the second scenario, the mood of the team determines your motivation levels. I have had the privilege of working with powerful teams who thought about nothing other than achieving their target. Such teams are a blessing to work with.
Even if you had a bad morning at your house, the moment you step into the workplace, you forget the problem. You gear up to get work done and contribute your best.
Unfortunately, I also have worked in teams who always had complained about someone or the other. Even if you come to work full of energy, the negative mindset of other people prevents you from being your best.
In scenario 3, when you talk to people who complain about their lives, you start feeling that your life is miserable, too. You look at the little problems you have in your own life and start worrying about them even if they never really bothered you before.
On the other hand, if you mingle with people who discuss new ideas, you will find yourself thinking of ways to improve your life, too. When you step out of such gatherings, you are brimming with positive energy to get things done.
The impact of your surroundings and the people around
The influence of the people around you is real, massive, and contagious. I am not stating the power of your belief fuels a cosmic trigger somewhere in the universe changing things for you. Many books like The Secret, Think and Grow Rich, and As a Man Thinketh talk about the Law of Attraction.
My point is way different. I am only talking about how your mood changes when your surroundings change. The scenarios presented above are proof that you have experienced for yourself.
A pleasant environment and people foster:
- high productivity
Toxic people and surroundings lead to:
- a victim mindset
- complaining about problems
Sure, a person with a strong mindset can shield himself from these harmful effects. But, as a natural instinct, your brain can go astray. In no time, you will find yourself exhibiting similar behavior.
I have seen how my behavior changed on different websites. This was back in time where Yahoo Answers was still a well-known platform. On one side was Yahoo Answers which was full of spam answers. On the other side was a platform like Stackoverflow where the answers were of the highest quality.
When I answered a question on Yahoo Answers, I just wrote whatever came to my mind. But on Stackoverflow, I made sure I was thoughtful before submitting an answer.
Though no one told me to write quality answers in one website and poor responses in another, my mind resorted to such behavior by itself. The culture of the other users on the platform influenced my actions without anyone speaking a word or sharing guidelines.
How to cultivate a positive mindset and avoid negativity
While you cannot eliminate negativity down to the grassroot level, you can take a few steps to reduce its impact.
1Stay away from negativity whenever possible
The simplest and most effective tip is something you know already — staying away from negativity. In certain situations, you must make an effort to add your presence because it adds value to relationships.
For example, avoiding funerals and keeping your distance from a friend who is going through a tough time is a terrible idea.
But, you can avoid other toxic circumstances. If a group of your friends complains all the time, avoid hanging out with them. If your colleagues crib every day at lunch, find a different group to hang out with.
Some of the negativity around you is inevitable, while the rest is something you choose to step into. Make a conscious decision to step out of such scenarios, even if it seems hard.
2Make it clear to your circle
If you cannot step out of negativity, make your idea clear. For example, if your best friend has a negative mindset, you cannot just cut off your friendship.
At the same time, do not become a shoulder for people to cry on for every little problem. The more you entertain such behavior, the more the person will come running to you.
Consider such behavior as a disease. If you provide a breeding ground for it, you will help to spread it. Curtail it early, and you will prevent further growth.
Convey the message that you do not like hearing the complaints and negative comments all the time. Some people understand a subtle message, while a few others need a blunt and clear response.
Use the right approach to pass your message based on how the person is, circumstances, and frequency of negativity. The final intent is to make the person understand that you do not tolerate a negative mindset. If they want to continue the behavior, they have to find a different person to talk to.
3Get yourself into positive environments
Cutting yourself off from negativity is one part. You must also look for opportunities to mingle with people who ooze positivity.
When I started talking to successful entrepreneurs, I gained a wealth of knowledge. Their inputs were valuable, and their enthusiasm was contagious. Every such discussion would pump me up to do better.
If you’re lucky, you will have such positive people around you. If you don’t, you have to go looking for them and invite yourselves into their circle. You will have a hard time when you begin, but one person will lead you to another, and it will snowball from there.
4Cultivate a habit of no blame
No matter where you are or what you do, things go wrong all the time. When they do, it may be your own doing, someone else’s, or both.
The easy way out, usually, is to lay the blame on the situation itself or a third party. But in every problem, if you look deep enough, you have a takeaway to improve yourself.
For instance, most people attribute their inability to be punctual to traffic. And while that may be true, it’s also a fact that delays could be avoided by leaving earlier.
No matter what the problem is, look at what you could have done better. Ignore the faults of the people, circumstances, the moon, and the stars.
The only corner of the world you can change is yourself.
5Operate within your locus of control
You have a locus of control depicted in the orange circle below. You have no control over the areas in blue.
You can only influence areas within your control by putting in the effort to change the outcome. You can break your head all night, but if the area lies outside your locus of control, you can do nothing about it.
Trying to change things outside your control only leads to anxiety, worry, and negativity.
6Focus on the solution than what went wrong
When things go wrong, someone or the other is at fault. That someone might be another person, a situation, or yourself.
Whatever the reason was, that is now behind you. You gain nothing by regretting the mistake. The only valid reason to look back at a problem is to self-introspect and ensure you do not repeat the error.
Other than that, you must channel your energy to find a solution to the problem and the path ahead. There is no use crying over spilled milk.
Your surroundings affect your mindset and action more than you think. Therefore, the people you mingle with and the surroundings you step into have a direct influence on your results. Whether you want those positive or negative results is a decision you have to make.