Dr. Alex Pattakos co-wrote this piece with his partner, Dr. Elaine Dundon.
Last week, we referenced one of Aesop’s fables, “The Fox and the Grapes,” as a way to call attention to how a very simple-sounding notion can get in the way, frequently on a subconscious level, of our relationships with others (the “O” in The OPA! Way).
(On a side note, you might be surprised to know that our research has shown that most people are unfamiliar with Aesop’s fables and are unaware of the life lessons that they offer. As part of our primary and secondary research efforts, we recently conducted some impromptu “jaywalking” interviews similar to those that you’ve probably seen on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and discovered that Americans seem to know very little about the contributions that Greece has made to our way and quality of life. We’ll be posting videos of these interviews on our website and our YouTube channel, and we plan to include some fun, good-spirited samples in our future contributions to HuffPost for their entertainment and educational value.)
This week we’d like to continue our exploration of the “O” in OPA! That is, others. While we hope that all people will have a positive influence on each other in this world, this obviously is not always the case. An important element of all our lives has to do with whom we choose to associate with and whom we choose not to associate with. Although we might not always have the ability to choose the individuals with whom we interact (such as relatives or co-workers), we do have the ultimate freedom to choose whether or not we spend extra time and energy with them (i.e., determine the level of investment that we are willing to make in the interaction and, by implication, in the “relationship”).
Take some time to reflect on the people with whom you spend your time, and ask yourself these 10 questions:
Who is supporting my hopes and dreams?
Who seems to increase my energy when I am in their company?
Who knows me well and takes the time to understand what interests me?
Who encourages me to learn more about a subject area that interests me?
Who celebrates my successes and encourages me when I stumble?
Who is not supporting my hopes and dreams (actually blocking my success)?
Who seems to drain my energy?
Who criticizes me more than I think is necessary for my development?
Who ignores my good work but focuses on times when I stumble?
With whom do I not bother sharing my real, authentic self or my dreams?
Your answers to these 10 questions should shed some light on who might or might not be a positive influence in your life. Whether at work, in your family or in your personal relations, it’s up to you to decide how much time and effort you will spend with those who are a positive influence in your life and those are (or may be) a negative influence.
The insight here is that your own meaning and fulfillment in life is up to you, but you shouldn’t underestimate the impact that others can have on your motivation, emotions, happiness, health, well-being and ultimate success. Be more aware of who is supporting you (and your highest good) and who is or may be hindering your growth.
In addition, and importantly, reflect on whether you are being a positive or negative influence on others.
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