Are Your 5 Chimps Fountains Or Drains?
[Picture credit: Me, Croyde, now]
I Have this writer friend, he’s quite a big deal. He encourages me with with ambiguous statements like “you’re on the right track” which coming from him I take to mean “YOU ARE AWESOME”. But might equally mean “please stop stalking me”.
Aside from the writing advice, this guy pushed me towards some deeply helpful philosophies during a tough time. Amongst a lot of insightful and practical tips stood a turn of phrase that I know will never leave me.
More fountains, less drains.
Remember that, we’ll come back to it.
I’ve always been a big fan of Jim Rohn’s adage: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
This relates to the law of averages which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. It also relates to chimpanzees. Whaaaat? The 5 Chimps Theory is derived from behavioural studies of our hairy cousins; it posits that a chimp’s general well-being, his health, longevity, even his strength are commonly the average of the five chimps he hangs out with the most. And guess what? Yep, our evolutionary path has landed us with a similar situation.
We tend to lean toward the mean
If our buddies are happy, make healthy choices, are quick to forgive, first to help, friendly to strangers and value experiences over possessions, all that ace stuff, that will rub off on us. I love it when my friends rub off on me.
If they are full of drama, we will absorb their drama and the anxiety that goes with it. That’s not to say that we should ignore any friend that’s going through a tough time because we don’t want their difficulties to become our problem, I’m not saying that at all. If your people need you then you go all in with every ounce of compassion and love and you help them to help themselves, that’s the way. But some folks simply dwell in the land of drama all of the time, it’s their default state. I wrote a note to myself recently about hedonic adaption, it went something like this:
“Hedonic adaption states that whatever positive or negative fortune befalls us, we adapt. The happiness spike upwards or downwards will eventually return us to our default setting; our own personal ‘set point’. It isn’t stuff or the stuff that happens, good or bad, that dictates our happiness but what we invest in our default state, and that’s 100% up to us.”
You might have seen that before if you read me regularly; the point is, we tend to peak and trough. Happy, sad, average, repeat, depending on circumstances, that’s life obviously.
The rollercoaster always ends up back on the straight
But it’s where we tend to settle naturally in-between the good times and the tricky ones that’s key, that’s our default state. A chipper optimist, full of compassion for others who tends to say “YES” whenever an adventure is suggested can have Lady Luck throw her a few sordid bones and send her world into a tailspin. With your help and her own disposition, she’ll get through it and right back to her default state.
On the other hand a negative Nancy who tends to see fault before opportunity, blame before solution and whose glass is half full of “NO” might win the lottery and send her serotonin soaring for a while. But she’ll regress to her default state sooner or later. This is how hedonic adaption works.
So it’s not lucky people that you want to surround yourself with, it’s people who default to the positive sooner or later regardless of luck.
These people are FOUNTAINS;
I think you can figure out who the drains are.
The happiest people I know have the happiest friends; those full of drama seem to associate with more of their same kind. You’ll see this every day, you know what I’m talking about. But the good news is, you get to choose who you associate with. Of course you can’t simply avoid everyone based on a drama based judgement call, especially if they are family or close friends, but you CAN choose to reduce the amount of time you spend with them. And there is a very easy and diplomatically acceptable way to do this.
Just turn up the volume on your fountains
If I’m advising someone on how to lose weight, one typical strategy we use when looking at reducing the amount of naughty food they’re eating is to simply increase the amount of good food they’re eating. If you eat enough broccoli then you’re going to be too full to eat the cake (I realise that’s an extreme example, but if you have broccoli the way I make it you’d change your mind). It’s the same with people, just get busy with your top five fountains and the time you spend with your drains will naturally decrease, along with a LOT of stress and anxiety.
More fountains, less drains. Stick that in your growing toolbox of things that increase your tranquility and don’t forget it.
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