Seeing the best in life's challenges

Are You Surrounded?

on August 2, 2012

Look around you.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  Who is with you?

There is no doubt that the sights, sounds and people that surround you influence — maybe even “make” — your experiences.

Maybe this is somewhat of a chicken and egg question – do your surroundings contribute to your experiences, or do you gravitate toward the surroundings that “fit” with what you expect your experiences to be?

These are questions worth pondering.  First, each person can pay attention and become aware of the influences in their life.

I’m going to use just a few examples:  music, television, and people.

What kind of music do you listen to?  What do the lyrics say?  Does the music pump you up?  Does it relax you?  Does it make you feel good about the world?  Does it speak about love?  Does it speak about heartache?  Does it express anger?

Is this a reflection of your belief system?  Does music lift you up?  Or does it make you wallow in your sorrows?  Does it soothe you or push your buttons?

Music is hugely important to me.  As I think back, I can see that the songs and lyrics that meant the most to me have included all the same messages.  I didn’t really see this at the time, but as I reflect now, there is such a consistency……Zoom by the Commodores, Howard Jones Dream Into Action, Wake Up Everybody, True Colors, the philosophical musings of Van Morrison, the social commentary of The Hooters, the list is endless…’s no wonder Jack Johnson and ALO are my favorites.  In a very real way, they are me.

What do you watch on TV?  Let’s start with the news.  A friend recently said, “It shouldn’t be called the News, it should be called the Bad News.”  She decided she is no longer going to start her day with the Bad News.  How about soap operas/reality shows?  Are you addicted to the drama?  Do you expect that life is full of drama?

Then there’s the violence.  I’m not going to say that watching violence is “wrong.”  I am just curious….ask yourself, why do you want to watch it?  Isn’t it fascinating that a movie such as The Dark Knight Rises spawns a violent, horrible incident, yet the movie itself is a commercial success?  Is it that we want to see that good wins in the end?  Is our deep-seated belief that the world is a scary place, and that the “good” has to fight to overcome evil?

And how about the people you spend time with?  Do they lift you up?  Do they encourage you?  Do they understand you?  Or do they put you down?  Do they make you uncomfortable?  Can you be yourself around them?

Understand that since each person is different, I can’t tell you which kind of music is appropriate or “right” for you – only you can figure that out.  There is no “right” or “wrong” for what people should watch on TV.  I can’t tell you which people you should or shouldn’t spend time with.  That’s not my point.

My point is, pay attention to the influences that surround you.  Understand that your surroundings DO make a difference.  Decide whether the things around you are influencing you in a way that empowers you, that makes you feel good about yourself, that makes you peaceful and happy.

If the sounds, sights and people around you don’t seem to be the influence you want in your life, DO SOMETHING about that, whenever you can.

When you have a choice, think about the music you listen to.  Music can get into your subconscious in a powerful way.  We might not be thinking about the lyrics, but they work their way in there.  Notice how music makes you feel.  Why is that?

Personally, I hardly watch TV any more.  But there is such a wide variety of programming, lots of it good.  Just notice what you’re watching.

The people issue can be much tougher.  We’re not just going to stop interacting with people who aren’t the best influence.   Sure, we can make some choices as to who to spend time with.  But in many cases, we have to deal with people who push our buttons, make us doubt ourselves, or otherwise give us a hard time.

When you find this to be the case, and you recognize the negative influence, you can choose not to interact with the negativity.  You can manage the situation.  This is a learned skill, and comes with practice.  You can anticipate the interactions, what that person is likely to do or say, how you are likely to react and think, and strategize in your mind as to how you will ignore the influence.   In many cases, you can head off a potential mine field by choosing not to engage.

If you can maximize the positive influences that you have control over, and minimize or neutralize the negative influences, you will have surrounded yourself with experiences that will empower and comfort you.

Easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

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