Do Your Friends Play A Role In Your Happiness And Dreams?

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“Other people are the best anecdote to the downs of life and the single most reliable up.”  – Martin Seligman, Flourish

For the past few weeks, I have been giving serious consideration and thought about the people I surround myself with and spend my time with. While this is certainly not the first time I’ve thought about this, I am at a place of pushing myself to grow and stretch even further, working hard to strengthen my capacities and make all my wildest dreams a reality.

This consideration about my friendships has pushed its way into the forefront of my mind because every source of knowledge and growth, whether it’s in the coaching world, in my self-development books, or in my spiritual endeavors, suggest that the company we keep plays a pivotal role in how quickly we can realize our dreams

Our relationships in all their forms also play a major role in our well-being, and in our ability to be happy.

So let’s talk about this idea we so often hear about: that we need to be happy on our own.

Well, I think there is a terrible misinterpretation of this all too well-known sayings that suggest, “only you can make yourself happy,” or “no one can make you happy except you.” And, while those statements hold truth, what they are really speaking to is our responsibility for our own personal happiness.  We should not expect other people to make us happy. 

If you want a happy life YOU have to create a happy life.

Let’s be clear – what these adages are not suggesting is that you should somehow find your happiness isolated from meaningful connections to other people.

So then how do other people play a role in our happiness?

Well, let’s start by discussing the impact other people have in our life.  How many of you have had the experience of having an idea and sharing that idea with a friend? Maybe, you were feeling inspired to take that cupcake making hobby into a full-time business. 

So you sit with your friend over a cup of coffee and as you're chatting you tell her about your dream.  You are excited and full of passion, and your friend, perhaps innocently and even with the best of intentions, starts talking about what could go wrong with your plan.  She may think she has your interests in mind as she tells you that it would be foolish to leave your job. She continues with a list of questions that begin with, “but what if…”

I’ve had that experience, and, while I’m sure that my friend meant no harm, it certainly left me feeling deflated. Now, it didn’t stop me from going after my dreams but here’s another scenario. 

I called a different friend, my bestie in the above picture, and I told her about my plans.  She responded with excitement and phrase.  She congratulated me for being courageous, and then she said, “What can I do to help and support you?  Maybe I can help you by…”  I left that exchange feeling excited and invigorated. 

So, here is my question: “Which friend should I choose to share my dreams with and spend more time with?”  The one that pointed out every obstacle or the one that supported my aspirations.

Compelling research has repeatedly demonstrated how crucial authentic connections are to our well-being. However, having a lot of “friends” is not enough to determine well-being, and the quality and form of those relationships are far more critical. 

Few people actually think about how or why they choose their friends.  Many people look at their friendships as something that occurred through chance, and, once they befriend someone they feel compelled to maintain the friendship. 

I want to encourage you to reflect upon the quality of those friendships.  Are you spending your time with friends that inspire and uplift you?  Are you spending time with friends that encourage your growth and support your dreams? 

Do your friends bring out the best in you? 

And, yes. it is okay to evaluate your friendships.  In fact, the importance of the quality of those friendships cannot be dismissed.  After all, not only are your friendships a major factor in your overall happiness and well-being, those friendships could be a compelling factor in how quickly you realize your dreams.

Tell me what you think. What role have your friends played in your success and happiness?