There’s a famous axiom that I bet you’ve heard: “A happy wife is a happy life.” If you’re someone’s wife, I’ll bet you agree with the sentiment. And if you’re the husband to a wife, I know you agree.
But the positive contributors to a happy life far outnumber just your happy spouse. They can include happy children, a happy best friend, a happy office mate, a happy boss and plenty of other happy people who will influence and bring out the best in you. They just don’t all rhyme so neatly.
That doesn’t mean it’s your job to make all those people happy. Rather, research shows the contagiousness of both positivity and negativity. Being around negative, unmotivated people drains our energy and potential. Surrounding ourselves with positive, engaged, creative people causes our own positivity, motivation and productivity to multiply.
This isn’t about networking with successful people to get ahead, nor is it about surrounding yourself with people who always seem cheerful and happy. It’s about surrounding yourself with people whose positive traits amplify your own. You want to choose people who serve a variety of purposes in your life.
I suggest a mix of three types of positive influencers. I call them pillars, bridges, and extenders.
These are the people who are your rocks in tough times. They have your back regardless: The best friend who will drop everything to come over late at night bearing ice cream, the mentor at work who will champion you for the promotion or big account, the teammate who will pick up your slack when you are overextended. You should have plenty of other people in your life who push you and call you on things, but you also need sources of unconditional support and acceptance.
Additionally, you need these connectors to new people or resources outside your existing ecosystem. A bridge might be the person to invite you into a club or committee, or they might introduce you to investors who could be interested in funding your project. You’ll know someone is a bridge if their connections and resources do not overlap entirely with your own. A bridge doesn’t necessarily have to be of higher status to connect you with other high-potential people or big opportunities.
We all need these positive influencers who will push us outside our comfort zones. This could be a mentor or a friend with a different skill set or different personality from your own. For example, I’m on the shy and introverted side, so I need my extroverted friends to help set up social engagements and try new experiences. I’m a multitasker, and need focused, detailed oriented-colleagues to slow me down when I’m racing roughshod toward a goal.
We often find ourselves attracted to people just like us. But research shows that capitalizing on diversity requires embracing people’s differences. Keep this in mind as you analyze your social circle. Look for people who complement your tendencies and traits, and who will encourage you to cultivate positive new ones.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.