“Surround yourself with positive people” is something we’ve probably all heard before. We’ve heard it because it’s generally good advice—of course we should all surround ourselves with kind, loving people who celebrate with us through good times and support us through the bad.
But, depending on who is defining it, sometimes “positive” can feel like a lot of pressure. Sometimes positivity can feel incompatible with, well, being human. So counter-intuitive as it may seem, when we think about the kind of positive people we want to be and to surround ourselves with, it can help to clarify what a positive person isn’t. A positive person isn’t someone who never feels anger, fear, or sadness. A positive person isn’t someone who never loses their temper, reacts poorly, or makes a mistake.
A positive person isn’t someone who accepts the bad behaviour of others uncomplainingly and with unflagging cheerfulness. A positive person is someone who honours their feelings and the feelings of others. A positive person is someone who acknowledges that the world gives us very good reasons to feel angry, sad, or afraid—but then refuses to give up on the world. A positive person is someone who apologizes for their mistakes and genuinely strives to do better. A positive person knows when to stand up for themselves and for others.
In other words, positivity isn’t striving for perfection. It’s demonstrating hope and empathy and generosity of spirit, and it’s picking yourself up again when you stumble. Surround yourself with people who aim for that kind of positivity, and yes, you can’t go wrong.