by Adrienne Erin
Whether you call them your BFFs, posse, amigos, pals, besties or buds, they’re your friends. They help you get through the day with their funny texts and SnapChats. They leave witty messages on your Facebook wall. They even loan you money when you realize that payday is Friday and it’s only Tuesday.
However, there may be a downside to all the fraternization. In fact, your comrades could be subtly – or overtly – leading you down a path toward stupidity. Sounds harsh to your ears? On some levels, it may be. It can be tough to accept that Alex, whom you met in kindergarten when you were both homesick and crying in the corner, could be holding you back. Yet if you’re now in your twenties and all Alex seems interested in doing is reliving the college days by binging on alcohol while you’re trying to get ahead in your career, the problem becomes clear. Sure, Alex knows a lot of your secrets, and you’ve shared some great moments, but it may be time to expand your horizons beyond Alex and reach out to new people.
The evidence to support the idea that bringing new friends into your inner circle is a smart idea isn’t simply anecdotal. Studies conducted at MIT and in Finland support the notion that the smaller your social group, the higher the chances they aren’t helping you achieve your highest success levels. Some friends may be toxic and negative, eschewing any positivity as soon as they encounter it; others may just be too fearful to support bold decisions. Regardless of what they are doing to keep you down, it’s up to you to make some moves. Otherwise, self-improvement will be an unnecessarily uphill struggle.
Below are several of the fastest ways to make sure your chums aren’t keeping you from greatness or bringing your IQ to new lows.
1. Add New Mates to Your Personal “Crowd”
It can be tough to make friends when you’re an adult, but when you do, look for people who are supportive and successful. These are likely to be the ones who will push you to achieve your goals. They’ll also help you meet other successful people.
2. Limit Your Exposure to Truly Toxic Friends
Do you have a person in your life who views every opportunity as a scam? Does he or she constantly put down everyone? Short of totally severing your friendship, you may simply have to limit your exposure to him or her. Yes, it might feel awkward, or even rude, at first, but it’s important for your own health.
3. Set Some Personal Objectives
There are too many people in the world who are ready to tell you what you can’t do. Put some realistic goals in place, even if they require a bit of risk, and do your best to make them happen. Push the naysayers to the side. You know what you want to do.
4. Learn Some New Skills
Have a hankering to learn Spanish? Want to snag a job abroad? Let no friend stand in the way of your dreams. Every skill you add to your abilities will get you closer to the “you” that you envision.
5. Turn off the TV
If you’ve become a couch potato because your friend Alice watches reality television incessantly, it’s time to go on a TV fast. Mass media like television shows and lame movies can sap your energy to do more important things, like reading or listening to music.
A Final Word: It’s Not Your Friends’ Fault
It’s important to add here that you shouldn’t blame your friends for making you stupid. It just might be that your connection to them has run its course, and that’s okay. It’s part of life and growing up to understand when it’s time to let go and move forward. When you do, it may just be one of the smartest choices you’ll ever make.