Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Lessons: The Better Test

September is a reflective time for me. As I turn 43 this month, I started thinking about some Life Lessons I’ve learned over the years and thought I’d share them.

The Better Test is simple. Look at your life – the people, activities and events – and ask yourself if this person or thing makes you a better person in some way, shape or form. If they do, great! If they don’t, start moving them out of your life.

I had a ‘friend’ that didn’t pass the test. We’d been friends since childhood but had grown apart. I realized that she did not rejoice in my successes and she seemed to revel in my failures and my low points. She was always critical and negative about things I wanted to do and almost seemed to resent me in a passive-aggressive way. When I looked at the totality of our relationship, I realized that this person consistently sabotaged me and tried to make me question and feel bad about myself.

She failed the test. Slowly, I started to move her from my inner circle to the outer circle. We still talk from time to time but we aren't nearly as close as we used to be and that was my decision.

When it comes to relationships, ask yourself the following questions.
  • Does this person motivate me to do and be more? Are they supportive of me?
  • Do they share my interests?
  • Do they make me laugh and help me see things from another perspective?
  • Are they there to help me up when I fall down?
  • Do they tell me the truth when I need to hear it?
  • Can I count on this person to be there for me?
  • Do they get me?
If those are too many questions to ask, here’s an easier way to apply the test. Ask yourself how you feel when you leave this person’s company. Are you happy? Have you enjoyed your time with them? Or, are you frustrated? Do they leave you doubting yourself, feeling insecure or just plain drained?

I’m not saying you should summarily dismiss a good friend who’s going through a rough time, but I am saying to look at the people in your life and ask if they generally add something positive to it. If not, quietly move them out of your inner circle.

The same applies to the job you have and the activities you engage in. Does your job challenge you? Are you learning new things? How is the work environment? How do you feel when you head home at the end of the day? Being tired is one thing, but leaving stressed, upset, angry or frustrated on a consistent basis is something else all together. 

If you are volunteering or engage in social activities, do you enjoy them or are you just there out of obligation? Do you like the people you are dealing with? Do you look forward to participating in your activity or do you dread it? If you dread it or don't enjoy it consider not doing it.

My goal is to surround myself with people, events and activities that make me a better version of myself. Even if a friend is just there to make me laugh, that is a good thing and I appreciate. Everyone in my inner circle is there for a reason. Hopefully, I'm in their inner circle for a reason too.

Think of your life as a play – a one-man or woman show. You are the star. You want to fill your first two rows with those who have scored highest on the Better Test. These are your biggest fans. These are the ones who clap the loudest and who really want you to deliver a tour-de-force performance. Let the people who might boo or walk of the performance, sit in the back ... way in the back. Those are the ones who have failed the test. 

For a better life experience, surround yourself with people who pass the Better Test.

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