How Much Time Do You Spend With Negative People?

I had a visitor recently.  Over a coffee, I heard about his boss, a colleague, two suppliers, and his wife.  You can probably guess.  They were all jerks.

I was in an interesting position.  If I said something he didn’t like, would I be included in his Jerkdom Hall of Fame in his next conversation?

Actually, I didn’t really care.  But what was going on for him was a powerful lesson for me.  Life is such a good teacher.

This gentleman works a job whereby he is on his own much of the day. Through my questions, I learned that over the past week, he had actually communicated less than one hour with his boss.  Although he saw his colleague each morning and at the end of the day, they rarely talked.  One supplier had been on site twice in the week.  And he was with his wife less than four waking hours per day.  I doubt that every minute of those interactions was nasty.  But even if they were, it was less than 25% percent of his non-sleeping time.  And yet he had allowed his interactions and perceptions of those “negative” people to pollute his brain for the other 75% percent of his week.

I had two distinct thoughts with lessons for me.

First thought:
Were all of those other people as negative as he described?  Or was he the common link in the quality of those interactions?

The lesson:
I learned that I have the choice and control of my feelings at ALL times.  Nobody else can make me happy, jazzed, sad, or razzed.  It’s always my choice.  And as I consciously choose the fabulous feelings I want, it positively affects my relationships with others.

Does this same lesson apply for you?

Second thought:
Was this a time management habit?  Oh, this man may do exceptional work while on the job, but does his use of time give him a rejuvenating and satisfying quality of life?

The lesson:
I have exactly the same number of hours every day, and my days are limited.  I encounter negative people and undesirable situations.  As a percentage of my time, this is extremely small.  I can choose to let those few negative moments pollute my entire day as I drag those past situations into my present and project them into my future.  Or I can choose to be totally present in each moment.  In other words, I can effectively deal with the negative situations, let them go, and be totally joyous and appreciative of the other wonderful moments.  I “get to” choose to make the biggest part of my day fabulous.

Does this same lesson apply for you?

One final thought:
Thankfully, this gentleman is not a regular visitor.  We need to be conscious and mindful of the people we associate with on a regular basis.  My friend, Kevin Burns, says, “If you hang around with whiners and complainers, their numbers go up by one.”