Who are you hanging out with? (it matters!)

Surround yourself with people who  inspire and empower you!

A few weeks ago, I flew to Utah to spend the weekend with 5 classmates from my Catholic girls high school. It’s been years (okay, decades) since we donned white dresses and received our diplomas, excited to head off to college and new adventures.

Though I’d kept in sporadic touch with some of my classmates over the years, the truth is that careers, kids and life took us in different directions. What would it be like to hang out together again?

It was a blast! We talked for hours, looked at old pictures and shared lots of laughs. There was a level of trust, respect and acceptance that made conversation and confidences flow easily as we shared our stories and hopes for the future. It reminded me that who you spend time with can definitely influence your behavior, happiness and success.

Most of us have experienced a friend, relative or co-worker who radiates negativity – constantly complaining, tearing other people down or focusing on what’s not working. A few minutes with one of these energy vampires can leave you feeling drained and out of sorts. There’s even a term for it – emotional contagion – because you absorb their energy and emotions.

But here’s the good news: when you spend time with people who are happy, motivated and genuinely supportive of others, you mirror these emotions, too. So what qualities do you look for in your most trusted friends and colleagues? Here’s my list, inspired by spending time with my smart, accomplished (and did I mention fun?) classmates.

  • shared values
  • respect, kindness and compassion
  • curiosity and openness to different points of view
  • a sense of humor
  • honesty and willingness to speak the truth

What’s on your list?

Remember, your time is precious. Spend it wisely with people who challenge, support and inspire you to be your best (and do the same for them).

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