This article is reprinted from Andrea’s blog. Please visit for more helpful articles.

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about how they should surround themselves with people that are successful if they want to be successful. Or that they need to be around spiritual people if they are on a spiritual path. Or that they need to cut off negative people from their lives if they want a more peaceful life.

This concept usually intrigues me. Is it really important that we be around people that are like us or that aspire to similar things as us? Is this an important component for our happiness or for our growth? I tend to think that it’s not necessarily so. We can pretty much hang out with all sorts of people if we have the right attitude. Actually, it’s probably good for us be around people that are different from us, even around the so called “negative people”. :)

Anatomy of selecting relationships

In terms of relationships, we pretty much select who we would like to be friends with. It’s different from family since we don’t get to pick our relatives. Then most people would say why not take advantage of this and choose to be constantly surrounded by “wonderful people?” Is there a point in our lives when this is no longer important?

1. Hanging out with people like us (selective friendships)

As we start to grow and transform, we tend to want to be surrounded by people that share the same views. In Buddhism, the term “sangha” can be loosely interpreted as a community or group of people who share a common goal, vision, or purpose.

Hanging out with our sangha can be a good step forward since we start to bring into our lives people who reinforce our newly adopted beliefs. When we change our vibration, we want to be around people of the same vibration. In many cases, people that carry our old vibration naturally end up falling away from our lives. And that is perfectly fine.

Some of us may end up intentionally cutting people off from our lives so we can adopt healthier behaviors. This is especially true in cases of alcoholism and drug addiction — when you need to get some distance from your old friends who indulge in the behavior that you’re trying to make a clean break from.

2. Hanging out with anyone (non-selective friendships)

Once we have already adopted our new beliefs, have established our growth, or have our new behaviors engrained in us, the idea of needing to be with like people is probably no longer necessary.

There will come a time when everyone becomes an extension of the love that you have inside. In this case, everyone is equally beautiful, awesome, and supportive of you as you are of them.

We can choose to hang out with anyone because we see everyone as love. We see their potential and we relate with them based on their true nature. All groups are the same and there is no distinction.

There have been times when I’ve been warned by others that if I worked with a certain person I was going to have a lot of trouble, because this other employee was very difficult. It has been my experience that when I see others as pure love, that’s what I get back. Therefore, the so called “trouble employee” never gave me any trouble. Instead, he actually ended up acting very helpful, and within a short period of time we became good friends.

If someone is causing us discomfort in any way, it has nothing to do with them; it has to do with how we perceive them. If I look inside I will invariably find that I’m still holding some kind of judgment towards that person. When I become totally non-judgmental in how I see them, the interaction with that person becomes pure joy.

Pitfalls of selective association

What sometimes happens, is that by choosing who we hang out with, we end up judging others. We have to hen decide whether they are worthy of being part of our sangha. By association, we classify others as either good or not good enough to be in our company. We end up judging whether they have the right vibration or attitude.

If instead, we would naturally allow people to come in and out of our lives, without judging who we think they are, the universe would naturally rearrange our relationships based on our vibration and needs. We would end up not having the need to consciously attach or detach ourselves from certain people. Instead we would enjoy all relationships and all people that cross our path.

Not judging our relationships allow us to engage with a wider group of people. In addition, it allows us to be open to what everyone has to offer us, instead of only what a certain group of people can provide. What can be better than being able to befriend the whole world? :)

  1. Thanks so much for reprinting my article. This is a topic I’m passionate about; therefore, I’m truly grateful to see it getting some attention. :) Many loving blessings!

  2. ian says:

    thanks Andrea- i have received many positive comments about your article. I hope we can collaborate some more. Ian

  3. shereen says:

    Fantastic article I am particularly with the view of ”We can pretty much hang out with all sorts of people if we have the right attitude” because without the negative we will never get to know the postitive, also never let any one take you out of your vision this is another rule should combine the right attitued when hanging out with different sort of people.

  4. Dear Andrea – Very interesting post – thank you! I’d like to add a perspective that’s been coming up a lot for me recently. It’s the notion that, by hanging out with people who aren’t, let’s say, as happy or well-grounded as you, you have something to teach them. And, by teaching — sharing our light as it were — we not only can help them to find their own happiness, we articulate and thereby reinforce our own happiness. Make sense?

  5. Kitty Carlyle says:

    Such a great article!  I totally agree.  I am on “the spiritual path,” but none of my friends are, which I always thought was strange and we shouldn’t have much in common, but it works just fine.

  6. ian says:

    hi Kitty- great comment. We are all on our paths, and diversity makes the world go round.

  7. Lisa says:

    Very nice!  Thanks for this article!  This topic has been on my mind this week… I’m always thrown back by groups, schools, churches etc. that choose this ideology and they need to “weed out” those that don’t belong.  No need to weed out if you live in a place of acceptance of people however they are.  “Negative people”  that term really is self defeating.  Everyone! has negative thoughts… so therefore there is no one that is without negativity somewhere inside their head or actions…  so to say you wish to only hangout with positive people means everyone! Because we all have positivity also… then the whole duality issue gets sticky and who defines positive/negative… its all relative.
    I live as if everyone has something I can learn from…… that way I don’t go through life assuming I have something to teach someone else. Not my business if they get something from me or not… (its a peaceful place to be) …what is wonderful is that all of life is my teacher… and then I don’t have to live in a space of selectivity or arrogance.   I’m busy learning… lots to learn if you are a person that loves to grow ….   I love diversity…

  8. Donna says:

    I agree with most of your article except the negative people part. I do believe they are toxic and long to make other people see their negative ways and they do affect our emotions and physical health. They should be limited. There is a difference between negative thoughts and being a negative person. Ask anyone who works in the health field. If you are a negative person, your chances of rebounding from disease are almost cut in half. If you take your negativity to a sick person, their chances of rebounding are also cut by that much. A negative thought does not equate to a negative person. A big distinction.

  9. Lisa says:

    My beliefs are such that negativity is part of duality and if you believe in positive then yes, there is a negative.  Has to be.  That just begets more of the same.  Thoughts turn into actions.  We all do it.. and to judge someone as being more negative you first have to be able to see it.. and within that is our own projections.  I believe that anything brought to inquiry lends no duality but only that “what is”… no good no bad.. just reality.  Question seemingly negativity and you will find some positive.  I love the article in that it touches that.  The most horrid thing can be met with understanding.  Dali Lama and many other enlightened beings teach this.  See the light in those that hang onto pain and suffering- yes, and at times have to steer clear also.  Superiority comes in so many forms- it is those that can see themselves in others that are free…

  10. Gayle Swist says:

    You are a very sensible person! :)

  11. Martha says:

    I’d just to be open to meet all kind of people as i am still a very friendly person, but i have had bad experiences with people who ended up being jealous of me or my achievements while i was happy for what they did and achieve and that has made me a bit skeptical since then… i keep being friendly towards others but i do keep my distance somehow, even when i am aware that i could miss a nice chance to meet nice people who are true to themselves.
    I also keep my distance from people who drain me, i am one of those highly sensitive persons and i don’t want to be around depressive people who only want someone to cheer them up while they do not much to get out of their situation; i also don’t like to be around people who only talk about themselves and their endless problems without even asking how is it going with me and show interest.
    I do love helping people, i love to bless them even if i don’t know them, but some are in this self created situation and even when i have tried to give them some advice they say yes but do nothing about it and i end up feeling sad, depressed, with headache or totally exhausted… i keep wishing them well but certainly don’t want to be keeping a friendship with them as i find selfish how they do with me… because they do want that you are there for them, but they are not available for you when you also need someone to talk to or just hang out
    I also don’t like people who make you responsible for the whole friendship, they don’t call because they think you should be the one who calls them as they say to be very busy… mmmmm
    I believe that a friendship is like a ping pong game…

  12. This is a great article because it says that everyone in a person’s life has a purpose.  I think people need to be more responsible to the people the the universe or God or whatever higher architecture has put in their lives.  We need discernment in order to avoid the users or consumers.  Those who will consume you or your professional services until the next “better thing” comes along.   Some people will call this judgement to discern such people.  But people who accuse others of judgement, which I call preventive maintenance, are usually the harshest of critics and those who have so many acquaintances that they can just pick and choose who to have close to them.  They make others replaceable.    That was a great line “the universe naturally rearranges our relationships based on our vibration and needs.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Lovely words! I am enlightened :))

  14. Kate says:

    Incredible article that I will read ten times today. Absolutely needed to read this! Perfect timing. You’re a star xx

  15. Virginia Urbach says:

    Thank you for re-posting. All of us need to be reminded, we are bombarded in the social media to stick with those that uplifts us and stay away from negative ones. In reading this post, it makes wonderful sense to not pick and choose for everyone has something to offer to us (me). You have inspired me again, thank you Ian and Andrea.

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