“Even Socrates, Cato, and Laelius might have been shaken in their moral strength by a crowd that was unlike them; so true it is that none of us, no matter how much he cultivates his abilities, can withstand [the influence of their surroundings.]”— Seneca
No matter how optimistic, hopeful and “successful” you might think you are, you must never underestimate the power of influence that the people around you may have on you. It’s easy to lose perspective and get off the positivity wagon in our day-to-day life as we immerse ourselves in the daily grind. As Ryan Holiday writes, “The mood and the actions of the crowd can seduce and tempt us—we are all influenced by the tempo of our times.”
We must always be vigilant of what Benjamin Hardy calls “the proximity effect.” From childhood to adolescence to adulthood, we’re all shaped and molded by the people that we spend time with and the real-life examples that we observe. Among other things and experiences, our associations also contribute to the impressions on our mind, and as Swami Vivekanada advised many decades ago, we are nothing but the sum total of these impressions on the mind. This is really what defines our character and hence our actions and eventually our fate.
Let go of the bad apples in your life, and spend time with people who will help you become a better version of yourself. This may not be easy but it’ll definitely elevate you from the trenches of mediocrity and everyday distractions to the peaks of success and achievement. It’ll keep you away from drifting and engaging in meaningless pursuits and empower you to tap into your innate potential and greatness.
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