The Universal Trait All Your Favorite People in Life Carry
“My favorite thing about you…”
I was at dinner with a couple of close friends, and we were going around in a circle sharing with each other what we thought their best trait was.
“My favorite thing about you is that you’re always able to roll with the punches, and have a good attitude towards everything.”
“I think you’re super driven, and when you want something, there’s nothing that can stop you.”
“You’re able to put aside your own needs for whatever’s best for the group, and that’s really selfless.”
And suddenly I realized, what’s universal about my favorite traits from my favorite people is that they are the parts of myself that I want to improve upon.
The most powerful and effective self help is thankfully quite simple
There is a fascinating idea from the book Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, that I have often come back to again and again: the concept that we are constantly infecting each other with our mannerisms, habits, and speech.
“My present self is formed almost completely of the people around me. I am currently made up of 30 percent Mrs. Izumi, 30 percent Sugawara, 20 percent the manager, and the rest absorbed from past colleagues such as Sasaki, who left six months ago, and Okasaki, who was our supervisor until a year ago… Infecting each other like this is how we maintain ourselves as human is what I think.” — Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman
But maybe it’s not just the surface-level traits we adopt, but as humans we are capable of absorbing intrinsic qualities of the people around us. When we place ourselves among positive people, we learn positivity. Surrounded by hard-working people, we grow to love hard work. Living with health-conscious roommates, we find ourselves wanting to live out a healthier lifestyle.
The easiest way to embrace and work on the parts of ourselves that need a bit of care
Nobody is perfect, and it would be misleading to believe that we could ever reach such a point, but I have found that one of the easiest ways to embrace and work on the parts of ourselves that need a bit of care, is to surround yourself with people who carry the qualities you strive for.
Wish to be more confident? Surround yourself with someone who holds themselves to a high degree of respect. Wish to find more peace and calm? Surround yourself with someone who radiates a self-assured energy.
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The people we are naturally drawn to tend to be the people we admire anyways, and so finding people who are good for you is a mere exercise in knowing who you like to spend time with. In fact, sometimes these people don’t even need to be real: celebrities, tv characters, athletes, or book characters. The public role models we choose to follow can be just as valuable in influencing our ability for self-growth and development.
We should not want to become them, for that means entering spaces of envy, but to admire and appreciate what others can do that we are not yet capable of is what makes spending time with others so amazing.
So look to your circle of influence, and take the time to identify and admire the things you love about them. And remember that there are things about yourself that they admire too. To influence and infect, we all have something valuable to share to someone else— that is the universal trait we all carry.