Celebrating the positive influences in our lives
I was reminded again recently of the people who have influenced me as I have made my way through life.
We all have people like this in our life. They stand out in significant ways because of the way we interacted with them, the circumstances of those interactions and the impact they have had on our lives.
If we’re fortunate, these people stay with us through the decades and their influence continues.
Which is not to say that people can’t continue to influence after they’re no longer in our lives, for whatever reason.
Influence supersedes presence.
Now, we have all experienced people who are positive and negative influences in our lives.
For the purposes of this column, I am going to focus on the positive influences, not only because it’s more upbeat, but because I only have two things to say about negative influences in your life.
The first is: Get away from them, as quickly as possible.
The second is: Stay away from them.
As far as the positive influences go, the opposite is true. You want to move toward these kinds of people and keep them in your lives for as long as humanly possible.
Life goes a lot more smoothly with people who connect with you in a deep and meaningful way. They can be family, friends, acquaintances, people you are in contact with daily or people you’re only in contact with once in a long while.
Do you remember the first time you encountered each of the positive influences in your life?
Each time you did, you probably felt that feeling of connection, of a bond being formed almost instantaneously. It could be romantic or friendship, but there was a bond formed.
After that first encounter with a positive influence there are usually more to come. These people become part of your life, there in difficult times, laughing along in good times (sometimes laughing along in difficult times) and you are enriched by them through all the highs and lows that every life brings. It’s easier to go through life with other people in your life—especially positive people.
Look back at your life—the big moments, like weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduations as well as the small moments, like the family dinner, the hangout with friends, the baseball game or the Sunday at home—and you will find that the moments that make you smile were spent with the people who care about you and genuinely want the best for you, without any other agenda.
I’m not going to say its easy to find positive influences in your life. You have to work at making and maintaining the relationships that matter. Along the way you have to avoid the pitfalls, like taking people for granted and jealousy.
The key is: Just accept the positive influence for what it is. Not everything has to be graded and ranked. Each of us has answers or aid in different situations. None of us has all the answers, but we should always be open to assistance from others, especially if they are offering their help from an honest position of caring.
It reminds me of the words of the preacher Howard Thurman: “Always do your own thinking; but remember that wisdom was not born with you.”
We are all blessed with positive influences in our lives. If we cultivate them, foster them and make them grow, we will reap the benefits of that positive influence through all the days of our lives. What a feeling of connection and comfort it brings to each of us when those bonds are tight.
When those bonds are tight, no one’s alone, and life’s burdens are lightened.
Reach out to a positive influence in your life this week, and you’ll feel it yourself.
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.