Comments: 208

  1. We have a natural Moai in my neighborhood consisting of several friends and their dogs who walk the nearby hills together. It’s indeed a self selecting group of people, but folks who have been brought into this merry band for whenever they can hang and hike, feel pretty healthy and happy the rest of day.
    Being outside is wonderful - with a friend or a dog and even all by yourself !

  2. Should we round up all the depressives and quarantine them so that everyone can be surrounded by positivity? There is more to life than pretending reality is other than it is.

  3. Thank you, just what I was thinking. Many people in the world do not feel optimism or happiness for very good reasons.

  4. there Is no reason for a group of friends to be homogeneous. Winnie the phoo and gang had each kind of personality represented but the idea was that everyone had their strengths to bring to the table. I am very happy to be the Eyeore of my friendship group, they need me too.

  5. I could benefit from being in a moai. Great concept. As a single person about to turn 50, I have felt loneliness gnawing away at my well-being -- a feeling that I am facing a bleak, lonely, isolated and scary future. Our society is based on the idea that everyone is neatly coupled off, but that's not the case. Even people who are married at one point, such as Ms. Auerbach, could be alone all of a sudden due to the death of a partner or divorce. Or, like me, you just never found anyone who wanted to commit. Moais could be a way to connect people of the same mindset or lifestyle. I love to walk, so I adopted a dog.

  6. Sorka, I understand that, for the 50+ demographic (which includes me, by the way), this notion of Couples Über Alles is dominant. That said, as someone in her mid-50s, I have, for the first time in my life, found a moai (there are even five of us!) Some married, some divorced, some single and childfree--but we make it a point to meet at least monthly (and only the five of us--no friends or significant others allowed). In the past 18 months, I've grown closer to these women. We all influence each other positively and we regularly engage in conversations on deep or personal topics. I don't think I have ever felt so loved and supported. And to boot, I seem to be developing a second moai (though only four in this one).

    You mention a connection of people with similar mindsets/lifestyles. Indeed, my "moai" is an outgrowth of people I met in a Meetup group. It takes some time and, frankly, some initiative, but it is possible, even for those in middle age and beyond.

  7. The other side of the coin: how positive and upbeat are you when you are around your friends?

  8. This article conflates two pretty different concepts. It's one thing to say that lifelong relationships and tight circles of friends are beneficial, but that's not the same thing as surrounding yourself with "positive" people. Adults who have jobs they need to hold on to and family responsibilities they can't shirk really don't have much of a choice about the people around them most of the time. And lifelong friendships are most supportive and valuable if they're almost unconditional. Do they kick you out of the Moai if you're a drag?

  9. Probably not. They do kick you out of U.S. meetup groups, however, if you don't attend often enough. Which speaks volumes about U.S. social exclusion.

  10. As I get older I realize the importance of diversifying one’s portfolio of close friends. Working with older folks I’ve observed that those who maintain only close family or historic ties will die of loneliness once those intimates are gone. Creating and nurturing new and old friendships is not always easy, but essential for a happy longevity.

    All friendships end: change of attitudes, proximity, life events, presidential elections, or death. Be prepared.

  11. “Portfolio” of friends? “Diversifying “? Are friendships a commodity? If so are there friendship brokers to consult about what a healthy friendship portfolio should look like, when and how to call ones losses and liquidate, or take one’s gains before a high performing friendship is due for a dip into negativity? “I was BFFs with Brenda for 15 years but I got out just in time. Her husband left her, she lost her job, and she’s just filled with anxiety and maybe even clinically depressed - or so I hear from those who have stayed in touch! The kids are having a tough time too so I’ve warned my kids to stay away, defriend them, whatever it takes. Currently I’m loving my weekend jogs with my NEW BFF and I’m keeping my options open to fill slots in “boring but stable with prospect for growth” and “wacky and entertaining” as well as “artistic and deep,” which is where I see the friendship market heading in 2019...”

  12. But what do you do if you start to notice that many of your closest friends are extremely negative and see only the worst in everything? They are good friends, they are there when you need them, they are certainly there for you on bad days (if anything, they are experts at bad days!) but still, their general attitude can get tiring. What does one do then? Dismiss the current friends and seek out people who strive to see the good in things? Trying to talk to them about it leads nowhere. I feel worse when I'm around people who are constantly complaining about what seem to be to be trivial matters, but I don't know what to do about it. Cutting them loose seems very harsh. I am just not negative enough to do that.

  13. Everybody has bad times. Be sympathetic--and limit your time around them. Have coffee, not the whole weekend, with them. Seek others who can balance this and bring joy into your life.

  14. Maybe the friend is suffering from the debilitating illness called Depression and/or Anxiety! How about mentioning that and offering to go along to support them at a doctor or therapy appointment.

  15. What a thoughtful exchange of ideas and insights. Thank you to Barb and Rockstarkate, Mary and others.

  16. “Life is too short to be around negative people,” she said. “I need people around me who care about me and are appreciative, and see the world as a glass half full, not half empty.”

    Negative Nancys are irritating but pollyannas might just be worse. There's nothing like someone telling you 'the sun will come out tomorrow' when something terrifically bad has happened to really make a person really upset and still more miserable.

    Besides that, I find that the overly positive or happy personality frequently goes hand-in-hand with the trait of not wanting to hear about or deal with someone else's life difficulties. This really is problematic. Fair weather friendships are ok but one needs some true friends willing to deal with the ups and downs for the long haul.

  17. S, I don't think "positive" and "pollyanna" are synonyms. A friend who is there to listen to you or comfort you is hardly being pollyanna-ish, yet (s)he is providing a positive service in the name of friendship.

    With respect to fair-weather friends, what about the flip side--foul-weather friends, those people who ONLY want to be with you when things are miserable but evaporate at the sign of any good fortune in your life?

  18. So well stated.

  19. This is so true!

    I grew up in a family where a healthy lifestyle--especially exercise--was an alien concept and my mother and many other relatives were highly anxious, critical and negative.

    Starting in high school, I sought out friends who were way more adventurous and brave than I was, in positive ways. (ie, hikers, athletes, ambitious people, not substance abusers) It was an uplifting influence, even in bad times, and offset the naysaying relatives.

    I've continued this strategy. My friends are still braver, more optimistic, and more adventurous than I am. Also interesting, clever, artistic, athletic. And typically thinner. My friends encourage me to push the envelope and do things I'd be too chicken to do. Sometimes I feel driven to do more adventurous things, just so I have something to tell them.

    I'm not sure why these people have me around. (Except that I cook and they don't. That's probably why they are thinner.)

    I try to be the friend they deserve to have.

  20. Don't underestimate the positive vibes of people, such as yourself, who are willing to participate in physically strenuous activities in the first place. From my experience as an outdoorsperson, these types are actually few and far between, even in urban areas.

  21. You wrote, "I try to be the friend they deserve to have." Although I have never met you, I respect your thoughts and you.

    But I can never live trying to figure out how "they" define what they deserve out of me. I define or decide what my life should be and "they" can take it or leave it.

    My life is not up to "them;" it is up to me...even if I die young at the current age of 68.

  22. They have you around because you appreciate them for who they are. In return they appreciate you for who you are.

  23. Have been just so fortunate to have a group of friends who have stood together in tough times, helping those going through illness, death, even divorce and so on. It may be a coincidence that we have found ourselves in these situations when young lives, in their 40s and 50s battled illnesses and passed away, leaving young families or elderly parents behind. Because of the handful of strong friends, we were able to support each other, we couldn't have done it alone.

    Having said that, in good times, we draw the line...when friends who see each other too often, end up gossiping about someone not present. That's when we say, see ya, later alligator...Drawing that boundary has helped us in some ways, when we would rather not dwell on other people's personal business and challenges.

  24. I think this useful article misses a very important point. Negativity can be a pattern, an addiction really. Until we become aware or conscious of our patterns, our addictions (in the broad sense: something we are drawn to that is not ultimately so great for us), it is hard to break free and choose a new way (such as letting gi of negative thinking). Many humans -- and there have been times I would include myself -- have been stuck in a cloud of negativity, even victim talk.

    Something we can do, I think, for friends, is to notice they are mirrors of us and help them through their tough times with compassion and perhaps someone shine a light on them to become more self-aware. Then, comes the hard work: asking ourselves why are we choosing negativity and to feel this way? The most honest and willing of us will realize we are repeating familiar patterns...that this "feeling" state we bring on from our negativity is comfortable in it's own (dysfunctional) way.... them maybe have the courage -- with hope -- to break free and choose a new path. Of course this inner work is challenging, but I think it isn't about getting rid of friends but raising consciousness and awareness... Peace and healing to all. Namaste.

  25. There is no doubt about the powers of positive thinking which is sure to increase as you become more mindful and aware. A prestigious cancer doctor told me that a major contributor to longer life and QoL after cancer is attitude. Everyone needs to practice mindfulness meditation.

  26. Mindfulness/meditation made me more depressed and produced actual physical pain for me. The other "need to do" that I hate people suggesting is yoga. Blech. My doctor told me not to do it because of my connective tissue disease. Prior to my diagnosis I always wondered why I felt so bad after a yoga class, and why I absolutely hated it. Turns out it was literally damaging my health.

    There is no one size "need to do" for everyone.

  27. Individuality is a strain and an over extended concept to push more stuff to the populace. Happy, close knit, and sharing-is-caring life style is anti-thesis for economy at large. So, all the choices that one can make to lead oneself in that direction are systematical being legislated out. Does one really need to live off grid to be one with oneself or are we being driven to that extreme through policies?

  28. I think fortitude and resilience are more important in life than happiness and positivity. But that’s just me.

  29. I think you're getting into semantics here. Positive people often have more fortitude and resilience than negative people. They are not necessarily Pollyannas, but they can reframe tough breaks as learning experiences instead of griping all the time. They know how to feel grateful for what's good, instead of constantly griping about what's bad. And, they are willing to take action to change things that need fixing.

    I don't know anyone who's happy and positive all the time, but I'd definitely want the balance to be weighted more to the positive, and not the negative.

  30. If you take an online quiz to determine which people in your life you will choose to spend more time with, you’re utterly lost. Those of your friends that don’t make the cut are likely being done a favor. Perhaps a quiz to determine which of your friends is most likely to write you off because you aren’t “happy” enough for them so you can beat them to the chase? Seems like it would be more useful.

  31. I once had lots of positive people around me. Then, 2016 happened.

  32. Please don’t remind me of 2016, you just ruined my day

  33. Believe me, MaryAnn,I get it that your first reaction goes to the Trump force field and it's magnetic pull on our lives, spirit and senses toward chaos and destruction.
    My reading of this piece tells us that Tara Parker-Poke offers - in the same way Dan Rather does in his piece about the twilight walks he takes while holding hands with his wife - a productive counter and reminder of the good in our lives with dear friends and everyday pleasures. The ability to do this is a sign of strength throughout our country's history.

  34. @MaryAnn I surround myself with people who feel positive that working together and resisting Trump can make a difference and who act upon that belief.

  35. I think the key is taking the negative situations seriously, but with an attitude of making the best of it and being realistic about what you can and can’t do. That’s what I value in my friends when I have challenges, and what inspires me seeing them face their own challenges.

    There is something guilt trippy about Pollyannas. Not only is, say, your broken leg a problem but now you’ve got someone implying you are not a nice person if you aren’t thankful you have a leg in the first place.

  36. The silo mentality sounds pretty good after all.

  37. Exactly. This sounds like peer pressure plus positive thinking. Happy monkey see, happy monkey do.

    Personally I go for working with people on something important. Nuts to happiness.

  38. There is something repugnant to me about the idea of filling my life with "positive people." I guess people with problems should be shunned, ostracized into a malignant group. "Sorry Anthony Bourdain, I can't go to a movie with you. Or even watch your show. It contains some thoughts I don't consider positive!" Depressed grouches have added a lot to society, to art and to our lives. Nothing wrong with a chirpy dog walking group but I say be kind and inclusive.

  39. I will agree that we need the Snarky People .... we need to live in reality, and make it work for ourselves.

    I find it easier to keep as self-positive as possible. The 24/7 negative and drama ridden are no longer welcome near me.

    I require positive minded people with a balanced level of reality and snark.

  40. I think you’re quite mistaken in equating people who are positive to people without problems. It’s more about the attitude in dealing with the problems.

  41. Every single “problem” has more than 2 positive solutions. I see “Problems” as an opportunity to improve.

  42. Moai, moai, moai - wasn't that a hit song in the seventies? The older I get, the more I think a sense of humor is crucial. Humor allows a person to step back and not take yourself herself too seriously. There is more to the glass being half empty or half full; a lot can happen with a glass.

    Just today, after seeing the Mr. Rogers movie, I walked home. The film was all about Mr. Rogers' commitment to the well-being of kids. I teach; so I get it. But when I was walking home, I was suddenly surrounded by a group of ten-year-olds and they were making fun of my commitment to walking as exercise as opposed to ambling along. They chortled and huffed and puffed and used their arms in an exaggerated race walk way and had good fun at my expense. I, too, found myself chortling. It seemed the height of absurdity that after watching a show about how precious children are that I was being bullied by them. But then again, that's kids.

    Thanks to humor, I could see kids as kids.

    So, for me, I would like to surround myself with more people who are of good cheer. Life is too short not to laugh.

  43. Ten yr. olds eventually grow up to be funny teens and adults. The walking incident is typical of ten yr. old stuff; it wasn't personal, just little kid stuff. Glad you were able to laugh with them.

  44. One pervasive drag on making real life changes by surrounding yourself with positive people is this -- the current culture of assuming that friendships are "forever" (as in "BFFs") and that our old friends deserve "unconditional" love and support.

    I'm not saying we should be fickle or disloyal in our friendships. But truth to tell, many longtime friendships begin to coast along on sheer habit.

    Ask yourself: Do I have so-called "friends" who actually undercut or discourage my growth and new happiness? Am I excusing a lot of negativity from a friend of many years only because I'm trying to be patient and non-judgmental? Would I want this person as a friend if I was just meeting them now, in this phase of my life?

    Friendships are good, but only if they represent good and positive relationships.

  45. One of the big problems with these kinds of arguments is that they seek to transpose concepts from other cultures onto American reality. I lived 25 years in the USA, became a US citizen, and love much about the culture. But friendships are much stronger where I came from. And that means that you have to take in the positive and the negative in equal measure. Americans don’t like bad news, if you have a problem go see a shrink. I would love to see you when you’re positive. Friendship just doesn’t work that way. It reminds me of the nutritionist who recommends the Mediterranean diet: the only difference is that we can’t afford to spend two hours a day wasting time with friends in the cafe, but that is part of the “diet”, it’s a lifestyle not just a diet, and the culturally conditioned social network that supports it.

  46. Velko, my old student! Believe me, some of us Americans feel as you do, which is why we reach out to other cultures. Be well!

  47. As I’ve gotten older (I’m in my early fifties) I have made a conscious decision to surround myself with people whose company I cherish, where there is reciprocal enjoyment. I no longer choose to spend my precious free time with toxic, angry, or mean people. That doesn’t mean that I’m not there for true friends that may going through tough times. I will always be there for them.

    I’ve also increased the positivity in my life by no longer participating in what has now become the often toxic and divisive social media platforms and I’m so happy I did.

  48. This article's argument has many problems.

    First, people don't divide into "positive" and "negative" camps. Most of us go through both hope and discouragement. Often we have both at once. Should our friends shun us when we are (or appear) down, and should we do the same to them? I think and hope not.

    Second, grumpiness has a place in life. I cherish my slightly grumpy friends and will not cut them out of my life just because some self-help expert says I should. Self-helper, help yourself. Leave others to make their own decisions.

    Third, not all friendships exist within "social networks." There's such a thing as a (relatively) independent friendship, where the two people respect each other and choose to spend time together. Not everything has to take place in a group.

    Fourth, this kind of social engineering--where you cut off people who don't seem positive enough--not only increases the cruelty in the world but treats such cruelty as just. Friendships are voluntary to begin with; they don't have to be self-righteous on top of that. There is more to friendship than a power sprint through the park.

  49. Full disclosure: Diana Senechal is a friend of mine. I opened the comments section to suggest that the article’s approach would lead to the shunning of people seen as undesirable, and there she was, making the same point! Diana, thank you for being part of my network of compassionate friends and for honestly acknowledging the grumpy side of all of us. I would add that our society is already divided into hostile camps, and the best salve for that is a community that embraces all. Moreover, there is hard work to be done and genuine suffering to alleviate. Let’s just do the work—together—and stop worrying about that illusory, elusive, untrustworthy concept called “happiness.”

  50. It didn't seem to me this article suggested dividing people into positive and negative camps or getting rid of grumpy friends. The emphasis is, to me, the power of being around positive and encouraging friends.

    Personally I don't cut off those grumpy friends, either -- I might limit my time with them IF I am in a place where more negativity is pulling me down and I can't deal with more. But generally I understand the ups and downs of life, try to go with the flow and be there as best I can for others. What I can't deal with are those people who CHOOSE to look at everything as doom and gloom. Where every positive thing is turned into a negative or criticized. Generally I will still be friendly with them as needed but I will definitely limit my interactions with those individuals. To me, who wouldn't?

    I don't see any good coming from wallowing in negativity. Doing it too much within a friendship group just encourages stuck-in-the-mud victimhood from my view. I'll try to work with you as my friend to at least see the advantage of neutralizing the negative views, but if you choose to always stick with the negative story we're probably not going to be spending much time together. Your choice, my choice.

  51. Very intelligent comments. Thanks.

  52. My friends who want to discuss politics to excess are a definite drag.

  53. My friends who dont care about politics are also a drag.

  54. Those types are all gone from my immediate life. I had a few friends that went NUTS with their politics.

    And the people that only talk about work are also gone.

    And the worse were the ones that found Religion and started passing Judgement while forgetting their previous lifestyle.

    A healthy positive balance is where is at for me ....

  55. If my parents had put me in a "moai" when I was a child, I'd have grown up surrounded by children (and their parents) who were as dysfunctional as my own birth family.

    I have done much better in life by making my own friends. As a competent adult, it's my choice to decide with whom I wish to share my confidences & time.

  56. Without defining the glib word “positive,” the author seems to contradict himself: every human being sustains periods of positivity and negativity, so to be in a life long friendship would be to sustain the “positive” with the “negative.”

  57. "The key to building a successful moai is to start with people who have similar interests, passions and values." Herein lies a problem. People are increasingly unwilling to associate with people who are different from themselves, even in the most trivial ways. I believe social media, and the idea of having a personal "brand", has made this much worse. My life is made richer by people I know who differ from me in their level of cheerfulness as well as their age, religion, sexual orientation, country of origin, taste in music, food preferences, native language, politics, and more. I even have friends who don't like cats!

  58. I used to be attracted to "optimistic" and "positive" people until I learned through the school of hard knocks that the first people to throw you under the bus are these people, both at work and in one's personal life. There's a falseness to being eternally positive that is a mask. I used to want what these people had until I realized that "optimism" meant denial. The mask cracks eventually, and there is a great deal of bile and passive-aggressive behavior beneath it. Limit your time with people who play a victim role. They are the ones who are not healthy for you. And stick with people who are real and speak their truth. They are the safe ones. Being 'positive' or 'negative' has nothing to do with it. How can you be against truth?

  59. Thank you. My definition of positive is exactly what you have written - people that do not come from a place of victimhood and helplessness. The problem always lies elsewhere. They harp on the negative, are endlessly criticizing and are not interested in what they can do to improve things. Positive people help you and reach out. They focus on.. well.. the positive.

  60. Thank you for writing this comment. The one thing that I have to add for anyone following this advice is to make sure to differentiate between people playing the victim and legitimate victims. There are many unscrupulousness people in this world that will brutally victimize people and work very hard to give the impression the victims are just "playing" the victim.

  61. For the record, I recommend surrounding yourself with people who 1) with whom you can have a meaningful conversation, 2) they'll care about you on a bad day and 3) you like them.

  62. Sad to read so many negative comments about this article when the article itself recommends positivity. I have several friends who have weathered storms yet are very positive. I so enjoy being around them and always attempt to emulate their positive attitudes. It makes for a much better life not only for me but for everyone I might encounter and influence.

  63. Some of have more than our share of trouble and trauma than others. Some are more resilient than others, and to a great extent resilience comes along with privilege and socioeconomic status. It’s easier to be “positive” if you have good health insurance and you don’t live with chronic pain, depression or disability.

    Buettner’s work is intriguing. But if you want solid data on the variables underlying long term health and contribute to lifespan, go to the basic science and clinical literature on disease, aging and longevity.

    What doesn’t kill you doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. My husband has a rare cancer with a dismal survival rate. The things that will help him the most are all rooted in real medical evidence: a radical abdominal surgery; highly trained physicians and nurses, Medicare, and the best chemo regime currently supported by real research.

    Whether he’s Mr. Happy through all of this will not amount to a hill of beans. If a positive outlook protected everyone, guys like Teddy Kennedy and Steve Jobs would still be here.

  64. Simply having a circle of friends (with their own neuroses) is a blessing. I grieve for those John and Jane Does that live alone and then die without anyone but the mail carrier to notice that they've gone.

  65. When our Dad passed away his mail carrier who he waved at or said hello to everyday started crying when our Mom told him the news. He was a friend to our Dad.

  66. What has been important to me in friendships now that I am older is sincerity. I have chosen to spend time with those who are authentic, candid and who truly care about me and my family. People who I view as “Toxic” are those people who don’t have my best interests in mind or who are manipulative. I’ll take grumpy but sincere over sweet but passive-aggressive any day.

  67. I'm a positive thinker - I'm always choosing to see the positive side of things.

    So I was intrigued by habitually negative people - until I read that it may be a way of coping with/remaining in an otherwise untenable situation.

    One work colleague was habitually negative - 'how was your family holiday in Hawaii ?' - 'terrible ! they charged for parking my rented Mustang convertible !'

    his attitude made him the person to avoid at work

    so when we expected job losses in a workplace reform, no-one was surprised when he was the only one to lose his job. It was more a collective sigh of relief.

  68. I'm sorry, but that sounds just plain wrong and discriminatory. Not to mention mean-spirited. Unless your former colleague was lousy at his job, and there were other factors related to his work habits, there was no cause for him to be the only one laid-off/fired, based purely on his "negative" personality.

  69. This article "The Power of Positive People", was eye-catching and grasped my attention. I was attentive to this topic because I wanted to discover how the people around you affected your health and feelings. I believe the type of people you socialize with, make up who you are. I learned that when you hang out with happy, positive people it will improve your social life and attitude. I do admire the idea of spreading moais throughout the country because it connects people with similar values, which impact lifelong health behaviors. Interacting with positive people helped others overcome problems and difficulties. Overall, I understood the concept of the article well and it was very entertaining.

  70. What about men? What about genders or sexual orientation? Are groups mixed in terms of gender, sexual orientation?

    Group therapy can serve a similar purpose --but here best to not be socially linked.

  71. 'Happy people' make me sick.

  72. I am sure the feeling is mutual.

    But happy and positive are not necessarily the same thing. Unhappy people do not always have to be negative complainers - they can be very resilient.

    “In general you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation..." How is that bad?

  73. Consider this, many of those “happy people” are masking possible underlying issues or prefer to project happy and handle their life issues within a healthy Therapist relationship.

    I find most people can benefit from a healthy relationship with a Psychologist.

    Make it a healthy & productive day!

  74. The wants of negative people are very simple. They have lost hope and think it's important that you should too.

  75. Positive/negative

    This country just seems to thrive on pigeonholing people. Putting them into groups, defining and/or labelling them.

    The gist I get from this article is that lives seem to thrive when surrounded by a strong support group where values, and morals are shared. But where I think it gets lost in translation (see the comments) is people feel defensive with the positive/negative concepts

    Americans are always talking about how their friends should be (people aren't here for to fufill my life expectations) but we never really have a healthy discussion about what we are doing to be a friend.

  76. I am saddened to see all of the negative comments from this article.

    As someone who had negative friends for many years, I finally decided to shed them as I grew tired of being around them since it tended to sour my mood. Whatever energy people display, positive or negative, humans tend to be influenced by that. As I began to surrounding myself with more positive people, what I immediately noticed was my own outlook improved which had a direct impact on my overall life perspective which I would hope would then be passed on to somebody else.

    As i begin the second half of my life I am determined to make it as pleasant as possible, despite what lays ahead. Why wouldnt you want to be around happy people? Seems pretty simple to me.

  77. I have twice in my adult life done a relationship inventory and shed negative friends. My mental health and quality of life improved as I shifted my time investment toward those who offered positive experiences and outlook rather than a focus on image and the material. This also included honest and useful feedback when I might be headed down the wrong path.

  78. A positive outlook did not protect my mother from surgeical complications that eventually ended her life. However, I wonder if my siblings and I would have found the strength to stand beside her during those months as we witnessed her decline and struggled to find ways to support our dad, whose outlook when facing stress and the unknown quickly turns to self-pity, anger, and defensiveness. He is one who has largely appeared resilient due to having financial resources and social capital. My siblings and I must actively support each other in managing our internal responses to negativism he emanates freely around us (and anyone he decides doesn't matter restaurant wait staff). Our mother asked us to be there for him so he is the one person I/we really can't cut from our lives.

  79. A positive outlook did not protect my mother from surgeical complications that eventually ended her life. However, I wonder if my siblings and I would have found the strength to stand beside her during those months as we witnessed her decline and struggled to find ways to support our dad, whose outlook when facing stress and the unknown quickly turns to self-pity, anger, and defensiveness. He is one who has largely appeared resilient due to having financial resources and social capital. My siblings and I must actively support each other in managing our internal responses to negativism he emanates freely around us (and anyone he decides doesn't matter restaurant wait staff). Our mother asked us to be there for him so he is the one person I/we really can't cut from our lives.

  80. The myth of capitalism is that by buying more and more it can replace community. As community dwindles for more and more Americans, we find ourselves lonely and depressed. We do not shrug the repressive mantle of capitalism and gravitate towards community. Instead, we continue to embrace this myth as we purchase more alcohol, drugs, and guns while sitting in front of our TVs while being bombarded with selling stuff.
    Live simply so others can simply live has become my motto.

  81. As someone in the role of caregiver, this article gives me a lot to ponder. Throughout my life I have been the one people lean on, I've always been the positive, optimistic one. Where do I go to find people to buoy me up now, people I can lean on a little?

  82. We are definitely influenced by those we surround ourselves and I think it's important to have positive (or realistic) people in your life. However, if we shed negative people they only have other negative people to lean on, which compounsd their negativity. Friendship is not all take; those of us who are reasonable positive need to spend time with those who are not so we can help them to see things differently. Maybe they never will, but I'm certainly not going to stop helping them try. I find making a gentle (not at all pointed ) joke can help, but it must be well and kindly intentioned. Distraction - doing rather than thinking/mulling - is also good. If people are really impacting you negatively, by all means let them go; but who needs our positivity more, those who already have it, or those who don't? And what if we're the least positive in our friend group, will we be culled as the 'negative' one?

  83. Sometimes we’re positive. Sometimes we’re negative. Friends are friends through ups and downs. Even if those down periods last awhile.

  84. Articles like this always mystify me (maybe because I'm an introvert) but really, is it possible to go out and find a bunch of new close friends at the drop of a hat, much less be selective and screen out anyone who is grumpy or sad, not to mention anyone unathletic, overweight, or unconcerned about "wellness"? I mean, where do you go to meet all these fantastic friends? I am 51, and I don't think I've ever had a single really close friend, mostly just a series of acquaintances. Maybe that's the curse of modern life. I will also say, people who are really into positivity or wellnes often turn out to be the most dysfunctional.

  85. It appears that few people recognize the difference between a negative vs positive person. Many of the comments here appear to understand this article as choosing to only be around people with no problems, Pollyannas, or those in denial.
    In my experience, there are people who spend a lifetime cultivating perspectives of seeing other people as being up to no good, lazy, or stupid and therefore inferior and not trustworthy. These are real world views, people. They do drag you down. My choice is to not spend my time indulging their self-righteous sense of superiority. I embrace the idea of surrounding myself with hopeful, kind, and positive people.

  86. In other words , people should dump friends who are going through difficult times, because they aren't positive.

  87. Oof. My ex-boyfriend dumped me with this kind of logic. He said that he wanted to surround himself with “positive people” by which he meant “happy”. Personal gripes aside, positive doesn’t always mean having a personal cheerleader. Its having someone who also models positive behavior. The problem is that “positive behavior” is itself a highly subjective assessment.

  88. what if your loved one, a family member or a friend, is a pessimist? Are you you going to cut this person out of your life? Is not accepting people as they are a virtue and a sign of wisdom that comes with age and/or maturity? I think positive attitude is overrated. I understand that my game of tennis will improve ony if i play against better players. That requires a better player willing to play against me. I should give back sometimes too, not just take all the time.

  89. Do something for someone or accomplish something for your community. This is the real generator of positivity.Those Oh it can't be done feelings and the exhaustion that goes with them usually evaporates. My antidote to Trump dispair is a non profit to help accomplish something for our community. Energizing and uplifting. Negativity is paralyzing. This is what Trump does to people.Like watching a snake engulf its prey. Don't get trapped in this state of mind. Shake it off by doing something for somebody.

  90. Exactly! I told friends on the morning after DJT’s election that what we most need now is KINDNESS.

  91. Didn't Barbara Ehrenreich (thankfully) put this issue to rest in her book "Bright-Sided"?

    Americans' have long lived in denial about everything from the state of our country to our own mortality. This enforced positivity shames people into submission and allows problems to be pushed down the road until decades later when all of the roads have so many potholes that you can't drive down them anymore.

    More upsetting though is the downright cruelty this self-righteous positivity engenders in people. Americans may not know this, but we have a reputation for being unable to maintain deep friendships, and I would say this is largely due to the fact that so many of these positivity fascists have promulgated the idea that if someone isn't happy all the time, they should be shunned. It's a stance only a clueless empire that has done no soul-searching can maintain. As the empire crumbles, I imagine the people who are able to look at reality will suddenly become worthwhile. Let us hope they can save us from the polyannas who allowed Rome to crumble while wagging a finger at everyone telling them nothing was wrong.

  92. This is a well thought out comment. I appreciate the Roman reference. Those who seek the truth, no matter how it makes them feel, are the only ones who will be true when the glass really is half empty. Fair weather and false cheer simply can’t last. Your friends and family are lucky to have you.

  93. I would be interested in what all this means for marriages. What are the health effects of being married to a negative, glass-half-empty person? (Asking for a friend).

  94. I did a complete house cleaning of all so-called negative & unsupportive friends.

    Life is much to short to have their ilk near me.

    It seems my return to NYU, along with healthy & gym lifestyle, art, music, and while I’m not “happy” 24/7. Doesn’t mean Im unhappy with the life I’ve created and nurture. However, one to many of my long term friends stopped evolving; they have become complacent within their bad habits and drama ridden lifestyle. I realized these people weren’t friends. Rude backhanded compliments which thinly veiled their negativity, and their 24/7 self-created misery is not what I want near me.

    I’ve met a few like-minded new Health & Gym lifestyle friends. Art & Music loving friends. Quality has replaced Quantity.

    Even negative minded clients have found themselves out.

    Long ago I developed a positive Management style; at work i shut down the negative staff by asking - what do I need to give you in order to do your job positively effective? Yes, it happened. Forget what happened; all I want is how can I make it better.

    Same rule applies to my personal life. I find it so much easier to concentrate on how can I make it better.

    Lower back issue? Instead of BOO HOO, I made changes to my workout and started swimming. Guess what? Lower back pain has been reduced as Summer of Core was started. Which includes morning Yoga

    Yes, I’m of those people that most people will not like. I look for positive solutions!

    Deal with it!

  95. I prefer Summer of Care to Summer of Core. I care about people and I don't find it burdensome to listen to other's problems. They do the same for me. I have a few friends who have told me I'm the only person who will listen to them. Sad, because one of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your ear.

  96. I pay a therapist for his council twice a week. I’ve listened to one to many friends talk about the same issues for far to long. That’s tiresome as they aren’t interested in changing their behavior, their need for drama and their 24/7 self-created negativity is exhausting.

    I don’t discuss my client work with anyone, and i see zero added value to discussing it with anyone who doesn’t understand my client work. Plus none of my friends have my highly evolved skills, expertise, and insight. They call me when they need to make certain aspects of their life happen. I’m a Do’er!

    I find that working out 2.5 hrs 6 days a week. Sleeping 8hrs a night. 4 litters of water. No Booze. Plus 45 mins of morning Yoga is the correct personal balance.

    Creating a balanced lifestyle is part of being a Fully Form Adult.

    I challenge all to go forth and create their ideal positive lifestyle.

  97. As someone who was described as a “bummer to be around” I’m all over this.

    I come from a family with undiagnosed depression and grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive household. When I left home I didn’t have vast reserves of self-confidence and self-esteem. I found good people who served as an ersatz family and help me understand I needed professional help. I’ve seen a shrink for many years, mainly as a safety valve, so as to not subject friends and family to the worst of me.

    There’s this misguided thought that friends and family should endlessly indulge your complaining and negativity. Not true. You will wear them out. They’ll shun you because they have their own issues with which to contend. Find someone you can pay on a sliding scale, something you can afford. People spend more money on coffee than their own mental health.

    As for being around negative people, I prefer when they have a sense of humor. I try to keep mine intact but these are trying times and we all need to cut each other more slack. No one knows what each of us deal with. I recently lost my job, for instance, and resent friends who offer sunny bromides because they’d rather not hear me “complain”. Or they compare what I’m going through with the worst of the world’s misery, in an effort to say “See? You don’t have it so bad.” Sorry, it’s traumatic to be looking for a job after all these years. I’d prefer an empathetic ear or a job lead to being told everything will work out in the end.

  98. I miss my NYC friends - the suburbanites we're surrounded by up here were pleasant enough pre-Trump, because their politics were hidden - but now, they're coming out of the closet as intolerable racists or people too cautious to say boo to an intolerable racist (which seems worse lately).

  99. There is a difference between being truly happy and putting on a show of happiness in order to attract people to you. Real happiness doesn't have to walk around with an idiot grin on its face, encouraging everyone around it to "smile, and have a good time!"

    Unfortunately, we Americans are addicted to a superficial version of happiness, which makes a big display of how great and wonderful everything is. It is a shallow approach to life, lacking in dimension and nuance. Happiness can be quiet and contemplative, just as misery can be boisterous and on the party circuit 24/7.

    What about the friend who comes to visit you in the hospital? The friend who calls when you're not feeling well? The friend who will hold your hand while you cry, and will listen to you when you need to talk? The friend who will argue with you, and never hold a grudge? The friend who contacts you out of the blue, just because she's thinking of you? The friend who doesn't mind if you're feeling blue? Those are the friends we want and those are the kinds of friends we try to be.

    Sensible people won't cultivate friendships with folks who think they have to wear a mask of so-called happiness all of the time. They'll look for friends who have depth, who are authentic, who understand that life is full of downs as well as ups, and who won't abandon them when the going gets rough -- as it inevitably will, regardless of how well we fortify ourselves against misfortune.

  100. "Real happiness doesn't have to walk around with an idiot grin on its face, encouraging everyone around it to "smile, and have a good time!" "

    I could not agree more. So many times, people (especially women) are criticized for not having a perpetual smile on their faces. I can be happy without looking like a grinning idiot.

  101. IMHO, accepting people as they are and allowing yourself to be dragged down by a negative attitude are two different things. I have accepted one of my closest friends as he is, but I have to avoid his company because no matter what I did or said, it was always answered with negativity. I miss his "old self" but have found that I am much less depressed now that he is no longer in my life.

  102. I completely agree with you. But, to be fair, I don’t think “mask of happiness” is what the article had in mind. I don’t think any of us who has or is a true friend would disagree with your own assessment, including the author of the article. (Writing is a tough business.)

  103. The article states, "Do you subscribe to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal?"

    What happens if you say, "Both"?

  104. My wife joined a moai group, called stitch & bitch. Best thing that ever happened.

  105. "It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by a bunch of turkeys."

    - attr. Harry Markopolis

  106. I'm generally suspicious of overly positive people. Seems to me like they're just not paying attention.
    Ever heard the term "ignorance is bliss"?

  107. If you see it all, but spend more time focusing on the positive things in your life, you start to become grateful for them. Wait. Don’t throw up yet. Eating with flowers and candles on the table is a much happier experience than eating with Donald Trump on the tv. I live in New York. It isn’t easy to be in this crowded, high pressure place. I was depressed for a number of lonely years. But when i walk, I take the prettiest path. When I drive, I take the least stressful route. At the end of the walk or drive could be the botanical garden or a delicious restaurant or a beautiful beach or the kind of friend you can say anything to and still be OK. I know I sound ridiculous. But when I started meditating and found friends who do, too, my depression began to lift. (It isn’t a god thing. I’m not religious.) Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. A single flower can make me smile now.

  108. "Have a nice day."

    The bane of America's empty barrel civilization.

  109. There’s a war on our soil right now.

  110. Though I would never invite it here, one great difference between European and American culture is that our last major war on this continent was in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

    Nothing like two of the worst wars in world history on your continent to temper the Polyannas.

  111. Hello Socrates. I often read your comments in other sections. With interest, appreciably, probably with furrowed brows. I trust you will not ask me to smile.

  112. Close knit friendships are not part of American culture. If you need to talk to someone, you pay a shrink. With the video and internet interactions, friendships will suffer even more. This society is going to be even a sicker puppy. On that happy note...

  113. True

  114. One optimistic friend can make up for 5 others who are bitter or jealous.

  115. So many commenters who believe in "toxic people."

    I'm so grateful that many of my friends over a lifetime don't seem to have been thinking along these lines.

    I sure hope we don't all have to go through hard times with a sunny, or even mature, disposition in order to be loved. At times in my life, I've been more angry, sarcastic, scared, and hurt than "positive." I don't think I would have made it this far if I hadn't found some people willing to be my friends anyway.

    Almost everyone who hurts other people is also hurting deeply themselves. Loving someone with an active addiction, mental illness or serious trauma can be a slog, I admit. It can hurt. A lot. Caring about them, and caring for them, may not make us happier or help us live longer, but it's the right thing to do. I don't mean that in cases of actual abuse, people can't cut someone off. But, if we all cut off everyone who behaves badly or doesn't give off good mojo, what happens to those people?

    The article says the point isn't cut off negative people, but a lot of readers seem to have taken it as confirmation of their decision to do that. I wish this article would have taken a sentence or two to define "positive." There seems a wide variation - anything from resilient, to uncomplaining, to physically active. Pretty rangy definition there. Surely these don't all go together, all of the time. What really matters?

  116. The friends you want to avoid are the ones who will try to get you to drink too much, slack off on exercise, spend too much money, take fake sick days, etc.

    They might be perfectly pleasant, "positive" people, though.

  117. That is so many of my best friends. I love them, but don’t want to see them very often. I miss them. But I wish they I would want to hike or bike sometimes.

  118. This article epitomizes the way capitalism creeps into our brains, commodifying even our personal relationships. As people have already suggested, categories like “negative” and “positive” oversimplify. They also reify: turn people into objects we can sort into boxes—worthwhile or not—culling those whose value is declining so that our own value (as positive people) rises. I wonder how “negative” people feel when they realize they’ve been culled. Just as the rich seem always to want more money, “positive” people never seem to feel quite positive enough: “curating” relationships is a way of affirming one’s own positivity at the expense of others.

  119. By all means, let's take a quiz and rate our "friends" so that we can spend more times with the people who rate the highest while, of course, not excluding those who don't. No way.

    Friendship has nothing to do with a rating scale. Friends are the people who show up at your bedside when times aren't good, clean your house when you can't, bring you food when you can't cook, take care of your children like their own and don't expect happy talk. I consider myself extremely lucky to have known some people like this. I don't need to rate them.

  120. Perfectly said.

  121. I agree, Norton. That “collective sigh of relief” is such an apple-pie American cultural attitude: “What’s wrong with that guy? Why can’t he be more upbeat?” Well, maybe he’s in chronic pain; it’s difficult to be Little Mary Sunshine when your back aches constantly and you can barely walk two blocks. There’s nothing more irritating than a constantly cheerful person who’s always urging people to “think positive!” The urge to tell him or her to “stuff it” is so tempting ...

  122. Actually, JT, you just supplied us all with a quality rubric by which to measure the health of our friendships.

    Lucky, lucky you and anyone else who can lay claim to friends who help in all the ways listed in your comment.

  123. Like most articles that offer rules for living healthy lives, there is much that is good in this article. And much that applies to the author’s life, preferences, and beliefs. Educated people (especially when it comes to diet) are often right until the next expert appears. If we pay attention to ourselves and believe in what our bodies and hearts tell us, we will know what makes each of us happy. A good friend is one you can tell anything to with the confidence you won’t be judged. Will still be loved. Often finding one is as hard or easy as being one. Do things you love together. As long as it’s not urged by what others believe will make you happy.

  124. Happiness stems from what we choose to draw our attention to and also from what not to.

    Acknowledging the bad things in life isn't the same as dwelling on them.

    Finding others who realize and practice that, and most importantly, learning to do it ourselves is the toughest part of the battle and one better off done within some sort of an encouraging environment.

  125. I understand the science behind the article, but what about empathy for those of our friends who are going through tough times, family members who are depressed, etc. The way the research is presented seems heartless.

  126. Obviously, the availability of family members or good friends with whom one can speak candidly are far and in between. Mostly unavailable. Witness all of the psychiatrist.

    Being positive has its advantages but looking at reality and trying to order ones life in response to adversity is needed as well. Positiveness is not just limited to looking at the glass as half empty or half full. It's looking at the fact that the contents in the glass are at midpoint. that point is neither negative or positive. It is what it is. It is what one does with ones knowledge that makes a difference. Going with the crowd is never to ones advantage. It is better to incorporate those ideas into your life view that work for you.

  127. “I argue that the most powerful thing you can do to add healthy years is to curate your immediate social network,”

    I have about 3 friends from my past life (10-30 years ago) who I keep up with, at VERY irregular intervals. I see them for a few hours every few years.

    My wife and I spend every minute together. Today, for example, we took a 5 mile hike. We are getting ready for a long, strenuous bike ride this weekend. Right now we are sitting on our back deck looking at the trees on our property, our birds, our flowers. We have deer wandering through our yard every day.

    I have absolutely no need for friendships. She is my every-minute friend. As I said, we do everything together, including going to the post office or grocery shopping. Nobody who sees us ever sees just one of us.

    Put that into your quiz!

  128. What you describe is what my marriage was like---husband was my best friend and (nearly) constant companion. Had no time (and thought I had no need) for friendships outside our relationship.

    And then one day he very suddenly died and was no longer there, and I was totally isolated. Very scary and lonely times. It took awhile to gradually find the courage to reach out and build up connections with other women, who I now cherish as wonderful friends and with whom I've shared many good times. Even people with very close, strong marriages need friendships outside the relationship. I would encourage you---and your spouse---to cultivate a few good friends. It's very frightening to find yourself suddenly, and crushingly, totally alone.

  129. Dan...I don't even believe that is healthy.

  130. I am so sorry for your loss.

  131. Just talking about this with my wife last weekend. As I get older, I am choosing to be around positive people. Have cut ties with friends and neighbors. Tough balance between giving them feedback and leaving them be.

    Also, I think being negative and crabby is a BAD habit. Recently traveling in an airport and an older couple snipping and complaining about a gate change. “Can you believe it” “We have to move now, hurry”. Just a bad habit. I can believe a gate change in an airport. Happens all the time.

  132. I love this idea and would recommend Lost Connections by Johann Hari to anyone for whom it also resonates. I’ll be thinking of how to build my own Moai and how we can initiate it as well as honor it over time. Great inspiration!

  133. So are we supposed to dump our depressed friends? That seems a little mean. I don’t know what I would have done without my friends helping me through the dark times.

    But I agree that we need to make an effort to express more positive emotions than we might feel so we don’t bring ourselves and our friends down.

  134. “Life is too short to be around negative people,” she said. “I need people around me who care about me and are appreciative, and see the world as a glass half full, not half empty.”

    When I read this quote I felt a little dismayed. I like the idea of forming a supportive community, but simply shutting out people that express negative emotions seems cruel.

    Some of the most “positive” people in my life, that insist on positivity all the time (in a way, bliss bunnies), were the first to abandon me when I had a major illness, that was serious enough to put me on disability. Although I tried to put on a cheerful face and vocalized hopefulness when I actually feeling hopeless, I got the sense that they just couldn’t handle being around someone struggling. It was very difficult since I felt I needed my friends the most. Those friends that touted positive thinking simply couldn’t have someone shade their fun outlook on life. Those that supported me the most were friends that suffered from anxiety, depression and illness themselves. They simply empathized and understood that life could be unbearably hard at times and it was okay to feel negative.

    I do think positive thinking is important. I’ve done enough meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy to know the value of catching negative thoughts. But at the end of the day, my closest friends are those that want to hang out on my best and worst days, and I’ll be there for them too even when they’re not the most positive too.

  135. A few years ago, I was fortunate to have a small group of friends who were supportive, active, like-minded. Unfortunately through illness and death, and moving away, this support system dissolved.

    I have never replaced it. In the intervening years, I fell out with an old friend who deceived and manipulated me for a long time before I finally decided that this relationship was doing me more harm than good.

    These days I have social contacts that are less “tight”, less kindred, but I think it has been mentally healthier for me. I have become closer to my spouse, and am open to extending myself to people I might not have met when I was so involved with the small and insular group.

  136. My experiences have some similarities to yours. Moved across country 31 years ago. I'm still in contact with one close friend. The rest turned their backs, two of whom I was best man at their weddings. I've made some friends in my "new" locale but they seem to fall away, especially when severe illness struck a family member. So, retired now, I'm pretty isolated and do not mind. Whether it's strangers or people I know I find I have to filter everything I say. Not comfortable.

  137. Many people live in a bubble in America believing in 'be careful what you wish for...for it comes true', seems too artificial. If you have seen poverty in third world countries where the downtrodden smile at people despite the hunger and downtrodden lives, that! in my opinion is true humility giving you strength to be positive and appreciative of your life and be supportive to those in your life no matter what they are going through. If americans like being so happy all the time, then why do they get stressed out and get short tempered so easily? Ironic isn't it?

  138. I was raised by a single mother who was very negative and needy. In my adult life, I started having women like my mother trying to be my bffs. I’m a good listener. I have a lot of empathy. I think also I had become tolerant, almost admiring, of eccentric, brilliant women who are able to feel a lot of pain. I would agree to hang out, they’d unload their issues, and I’d feel just awful and drained the rest of the day. It took years to see the pattern, after which I started avoiding them. I’ve still got one hanger-on; it’s hard. She asks for far too much attention from me. She wants to be my best friend, and I’m hoping our paths diverge.

    My other comment is about chronically depressed, but awesome, friends. I have a couple, and I love them both dearly. For the most part, being friends with properly treated depressed or anxious people is not a problem. They are typical friendships through good times and bad. But once, in a 15-year friendship, one such friend was unreachable when I really, really needed her. I called several weeks in a row. Left messages. Then when she started getting better, and we finally talked, she was blasé about my health scare.

    This article concludes how we need people who we can turn to. This is my difficulty with having a generally positive, but depressed friend — will she be there when I need her? She’s still one of my best friends in life, but I do wonder this.

    And yeah, great relatives and spouses are the best, if one gets that lucky.

  139. The tallest trees are the ones that both bask in the sunlight and weather the storms.

  140. Through the years I've made it a point to read authentic, medically verified stories of people who survived metastatic cancer, and I am fortunate to be friends with one who has as well. I know these cases are truly rare, yet they do happen.

    What struck me about every single person is that they felt their feelings. They were not always happy -- in fact they were very depressed at times -- but they never suppressed what they felt. They did not try to argue with their despair, or temper their optimistic moments with a more "realistic" view. They did not try to judge or exert control over their emotional lives at all. Every single one had many grim moments. They were under no pressure by family or friends to hide this.

    What each one did was to make up their minds not to give up everything they loved -- simply not to let that happen. For a lot of people, that one thing was home-cooked meals. I will never forget the story of one man with lung cancer who had lost a great deal of weight and whose closest friend had died of the same cancer completely emaciated. He made up his mind simply to eat, and he loved his wife's cooking. He had a spontaneous remission.

    Another man went back to his childhood home in Greece, fully expecting to die. He had a hard time walking, but did not want to give up roaming the streets he remembered from his childhood. Soon, he found it less and less hard to walk. You can guess the rest.

    I really, really hope this helps.

  141. Just to be clear, I would never advocate people dumping their needy friends. But so many of us hang on to friendships that do neither us nor our friend any good, the kind of friendships that engender a liquor-infused vicious cycle of toxicity. Or the kind of friends that reinforce bad eating by gathering around a beef barbecue or a bag or Doritos on the couch. The purpose of the scorecard we created is to assess your social circle and get an idea if they're lifting you up or dragging you down. After that, you can make the call as to whether they stay in the club, or not.

  142. RECENTLY I HAVE Gotten a group of friends from the past whom I did not know back then. I attended a select high school for boys where there was a great deal sense of affiliation with the school and with each other. I never remember anybody being teased or mistreated for being smart and taking studies seriously. Now, after more than 50 years, I've met classmates at reunions whom I had known back in the day. And we're very glad to form new friendships now that most of us are 70 and have lived our lives. I'm also getting closer with guys I knew back in the day, but didn't hang out with. It's an unexpected and wonderful community the alumni association has helped to form. We knew each other when we were kids and now are getting to know each other as seniors. It brings us feelings of comfort and enjoyment being in touch with each other. For me it's an unexpected treasure!

  143. The only place to find an entourage of "positive and/or optimistic" fellow human beings to surround my life with ; The highest mountain top or maybe an island in the middle of nowhere both sheltered from the day to day life happenings of the majority. This life ,this journey we all share is very personal messy and challenging. 'Stuff' happens and we all bring to it our own perspective.

    I embrace people who are truth tellers, those that do not hold on to playing the part of victim and, those that don't live in the place of anger.

    I cherish those who will listen to my story and I theirs. Here lives great wisdom and true friendship.

  144. And this might be explained the rise and obsession with social media sites. Subconsciously we're looking for our moai?

    Unfortunately I suspect moai aren't cultivated in digital medium; it's too barren a ground. I would guess moai must be rooted within the fertile ground of direct (for the most part) face to face human interaction.

    If this guess is correct then longer term social media will recede as a valued aspect of the human experience.

    John~
    American Net'Zen

  145. This advice seems Machiavellian. It proposes we essentially cull our friends who are not adequately upbeat and supportive of our difficult times. (Plus who are overweight or exercise too little.) It ignores the corollary of the importance of being there for our friends during their tough times. The world religions teach that true happiness comes from service to others. This author turns that wisdom on its head to say instead that it comes from other’s service to you. We generally must put on a brave and happy face to the world, but true friendship provides a space for people to be vulnerable and share their concerns and disappointments. Since this article ranked first in popularity, it must resonate with readers. I wholeheartedly agree that great friends enhance your life in vital ways. I am concerned, however, that this article’s attitude about friendships will ultimately lead to more superficial, less satisfying relationships.

  146. I don't think that this is what the author of the article necessarily intended. I think the point is to limit the number of "toxic" people in our lives. Anyone who frequents social media, knows who I'm talking about. She speaks about the moai, and states that the group benefits when things go well, but support each other when they don't. It's give and take... a two way street. Happiness does comes from service to others, and a sense of happiness is exactly what the server "gains" from what he does. I think the point is, that taking care of others is important and life affirming, but sometimes being taken care of is necessary, to continue doing the former. In Italy we say... one hand washes the other. Having positive people in your life helps you to stay sane, and positive, and this in turn allows you to be there for others. The golden rule says that we must love others... but also ourselves. It's a correct balance.

  147. I agree with Doug, and have something to add. Yes, if we clean out our friendships like we do our closets, this advice can be taken as cruel. Speaking as a woman, however, the lesson to be of service to others is pounded into us all the time. Those of us raised Christian may have been taught that women were put on this earth to be the helper to men. The cultural push to be the primary caregiver and soother to aging parents, good spouse, good friend, good neighbor and community member is fatiguing. You get to feeling like you're awful if you're not Mother Teresa. A little reminder that friendships should be nourishing, too, could help people in this constant-service state do some necessary assessments.

  148. The article specifically states, "The goal of the quiz is not to dump your less healthy friends." If you are a true friend, you will stay with less healthy friends, helping them with your own positive influence, while nurturing your own moai. It isn't a case of one over the other.

  149. For me, the take-away is that we are creatures who live, grow and ultimately increase our health and happiness in relation to others. We cannot thrive nearly so well in isolation. In Japan, a structure called a moai was traditionally created to facilitate community and security for the individual. Giving and receiving works both ways. We take heart and give heart. We share experiences and accept each other's individualities and hard times. We listen and we speak. We laugh and we cry. The group becomes a blessing to us all.

    I have several "moais" in my life. In my 70's, I belong to a weekly play-reading group. I belong to an organization called OLLI, the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at my local University, which offers a catalog of classes in a variety of topics to the public. I belong to a writer's group of which encourages the writer in me and the sharing of prompt-writing which leaves us in stitches. Most of us are writing a book.I take voice lessons and take part in a choral group which not only brings voices together but, as science monitoring has shown, brings heart beats together as well.

    I am married and my husband has his own "moais." And several we shares, such as our yoga class and our circle of friends who love theater.

    The point for me, is that it is hard to feel alone or frightened with no resources to support me during a hardship. Reaching out is something I had to learn. All good stuff here in comments too.

    Thanks Tara Parker-Pope!

  150. I too take OLLI classes. I so enjoy them and I have found that you have to put in the time to make friendships. Will you end up with a core group of friends through OLLI - maybe or maybe not. But the classes are great.

  151. I am still recovering from a toxic, borderline abusive workplace that exacerbated my anxiety and pushed me into perimenopause at age 41 (hourly hot flashes every hour, 24 hours a day, 20 lb. weight gain). I am now in a new position, and much improved physically and mentally, due in large part to the incredibly positive and supportive people in my new workplace. Preach, Ms. Parker-Pope!

  152. "I once had lots of positive people around me. Then, 2016 happened."

    That is exactly what I find problematic with many "positive" people: they will cut you off as soon as you say or do something that is out of their comfort zone.

    The moai that are mentioned in the article are the opposite. They are about people that haven't even chosen each other (their parents did). Their power is not about like-mindedness but about unconditional support.

    Sure, those experiments in the US look for people with similar interests, passions and values. But I see that more as pre-conditions for building those groups. If those people are too different the people in it will never develop close ties. But I bet that the most successful are the those groups that keep working when people grow into different directions.

    True positivity is about "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". It accepts that life is imperfect and makes the best of it. When you realize that you might have quite different values when you had been born at a different place with different parents life gets a different meaning.

  153. Frankly, I’d rather be surrounded by grouches and cynics - who tend to have brains and a sense of humor - than by Little Mary Sunshines, who tend to have neither.

  154. I have a Pollyanna in my life. My husband was killed in an accident. A month later, desperate to make everything 'happy' again, she asked. "Moira. would a Lamborghini make you happy?" This Pollyanna thinks happiness is either on or off. At 65 years of age, I am grateful for all the 'suffering' I have gone through, and my willingness to learn how to accept that life is not about buying toys, but about being the pest person I can be (and NOT imposing my world view on others).

  155. I have a Pollyanna in my life. My husband was killed in an accident. A month later, desperate to make everything 'happy' again, she asked. "Moira. would a Lamborghini make you happy?" This Pollyanna thinks happiness is either on or off. At 65 years of age, I am grateful for all the 'suffering' I have gone through, and my willingness to learn how to accept that life is not about being 'positive', but about being the pest person I can be (and NOT imposing my world view on others).

    Some people are just too much hard work, especially when you are out of resources.

  156. Easier said than done.

  157. What do you do when your boss is the most negative person you know? I am an optimistic and cheerful person by nature. When I am away from work I feel effortlessly wonderful. When I go to work I have to make a very big effort to stay balanced and positive.

  158. You go find another job and make sure you ask about what people like most and least about working there. And make sure the work environment and you are a good match.

  159. I love my friends, but in the end I want my family.

  160. When I read articles like this I often think of People magazine or being sapped back to age 15.

    A mostly happy person.

  161. Positive exuberance from those who are happy with their lives in abundant gratitude is remarkably powerful.

    I think the radiating force seems to spread, making contact with spirits of other people, galvanizing their untapped inner force and creating a bigger sphere of positive power.

    This expansive circle of vitality reminds me of John Lenon's immortal "Imagine," where the force of love is portrayed as a force that could dismantle all kinds of barriers, including language, race, religion sex and whatsoever.

    In converse, those who are fraught with negativities, pessimism and cynicam in their minds seem to have a debilitating insulation wall in which other people sense their cheerfulness richocheting into abysmal void.

    As a result, those who interacted find their positive energy sapped to the detriment of their health.

    Thus, being careful about to spend our precious time with whom is quintessence for our wellness!

  162. Im getting tired of this sort of reporting. Positivity is too often confused with being unaffected by lifes trials and tribulations. You know those too peppy people who see nothing negative in anyone or any situation. They embrace everything and everyone no matter how nutz the situations might be, or how dangerous a person clearly is. (And they often crash and burn in epic ways.)

    I prefer to be pragmatic in my look at lifes troubles and benefits. Avoid trying to stay in a positive state, but rather one of balance someplace in the normal and sane middle. This place is neither bad nor good, just a place. Not until any real evaluation can be made, no judgment.

    And stable, fully reciprocal long term relationships can be very difficult to maintain and establish as one gets older. Very hard.

    And now the current psyche-trend industry is making many of us feel bad for not being in enough of them, and not being positive enough. Based on whose metrics?

  163. These comments, well those I've read in "recommended" order, are so wonderful! Thank you so much.

  164. This article treats people and their personalities like a resource that can be used for improving wellbeing. The positive effects of friendship may be real, but commodifying relationships like that is gross.

  165. People are like food, spices. They sustain us and contribute to our mental health. Need a variety, all in moderation. Of course, we may have serious allergy to some food/spice/people. Other than that, it is better to include a variety of people in our lives, although we may reach out to some specific ones for advise/support just the way we seek comfort foods.

  166. If all of the so-called 'positive' people only choose each other as friends, it is natural to assume that all of the 'negative' become destined to either associate with other such people, or isolate themselves to a large extent.

    Could this explain Trump supporters?

  167. The cause of the long life is the soft water, which has everywhere on these islands, for example. "Soft" water means without calcium. You have a good health, therefore you are happy. It simply. If you make sure in my words I suggest considering the researches of Николай Друзьяк

  168. Looks like the people surrounding Trump will lose a few years off their lifespan, if what this article states is true.

  169. in my experience, friendships sometimes seem to have a lifespan. Things are tolerated. Then they aren't. Political differences and approaches to public policy, for example, were seen as educational and invigorating. Now, not so much.
    Friends fit in the context of who we are. And then someone changes and the relationship evaporates.
    And that's okay. Mourn it if you must.

    The wisdom of General Colin Powell "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity."

  170. How fortunate to find a rationale to ditch those losers.

  171. Oh great!

    Now I have to have a moai, too?

    ;D

  172. To be pessimistic is to be realistic. I say aim low and you won't be disappointed in life. Being happy with whatcha got is key.

  173. nothing beats an article on the benefits of positive people, filled with comments from negative ones!

  174. mbg14, your comment is right up there with the Always Look on the Bright Side of Life number in the Life of Brian. <cue whistling>

  175. @Stourley: That is one of my favorite movie scenes.

  176. People have depression because they are not thinking and dreaming positive.

    This article is not the ultimate to depression and anxiety but it’s helps.

    Actually there are about 119 ayah in the Quran about heart القلب and another 15 about mind/brain or mind/heart. الافوادة.

    I actually feel that we are robbed as this “moai” thing was applied by prophet MOHAMMAD in Madinah between ansaars and muhajirs, and today, as always, all Muslim have one thing in common, and that is the Quran. Allah has given us a pivot in the shape of Quran to make a universal “moai”

    But who cares - it’s NYT, and of course the vast majority of us have more trust in NYT than Quran when it comes to its practical day to day application as we are much content with being die hard champions of Quran BUT of course to the top of the tongue only - including especially the vast majority of our so called Quran scholars.

  177. Oh wow, people on a luxurious private cruise were happy? Go figure.

  178. In general, I don't trust overly happy, smiley people. Call me a cranky New England Yankee but they seem a little stupid or deceitful and fake. Like a used car salesmen. Americans look a bit foolish with their gaping, insincere smiles. Why do we even bother asking others how they are when we don't really care for an answer? Who the heck is happy all of the time? Crazy people.

  179. Michael Stipe said about Shiny Happy People "I hate that song."

  180. After reading your post, I am grateful for my poker face.

  181. Healthy to realize the NYT is daily committed to supporting the convergence of self-help and Americana in its investigative journalism. How would we get through our days without “looking on the BRIGHT side”?
    Gee.

  182. A couple of things:
    1) Misery loves company and
    2) You want better health? Turn off the news.

  183. The psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the following ascending pyramid of needs: 1) Physiological needs: The need for H2O, O2, and food. 2) Safety needs: the need for a safe and secure environment. 3) Social needs: the need for healthy parental, sibling and peer relationships. 4) The need for self-esteem and self-affirmation. 5) People's need to self-actualize via creative applications of their talent to meet their self-esteem needs.

    This pyramid could be viewed as a series of "safety nets," where one tier of needs must be met to avoid fixating or stagnating on it. (Think of the needs of the Thai soccer team, as an example.) Lower tier needs must be met before higher tier needs are considered.

    There are many healthy and complementary methods for achieving satisfaction of social needs. Reading novels by Philip Roth or John Updike can make an individual a better analyst of human behavior. Studying Freud's psychological model can help in understanding one's own and others' mental anguish arising from clashes between a many millions of years old id and a human ego and superego that are only about 50,000 years old.

    In each of these cases, the [reader/author] interface is a vital social entree that provides the reader with social connectivity to the author; but, also a broadened perspective to appreciate the complexity of his or her interrelationships. Often, such [reader/author] social-bonding opportunities are egregiously undervalued.
    [7/12 Th 10:34a Greenville NC]

  184. Older generations, those of my parents, and grand parents had this mind set.
    Those generations, could put something together from nothing, and had the ability to make fun for themselves easily. They were resourceful.

    Today’s people, do not where a tomato comes from, they are isolated, pursue money, have access to technology.... but somehow are not as resourceful or happy.

  185. I'm a bit skeptical. Is it more important to be surrounded by "positive" people, whatever that means? Or by people that are supportive and have shared values and interests? The former seems a bit shallow. And what does being positive actually mean? Is it about saying nice and pleasant things? Or is it about having a sense of self-efficacy and trying to take control of your life? Because I know a lot of people that I'm sure many wouldn't describe as "positive" but who attempt to take control of their lives.

  186. I am drawn to hopeful people who, in spite of adversity, know that life can surprise you with unexpected gifts. I am also drawn to people who weather bad times with grace and self-possession. I wouldn't call these people positive. They are mature. I think the positive/negative frame limits our ability to see value in the mature people who are suffering bad times but do their best to move forward with heads held high.

  187. I agree with you. A lot of ideas are getting conflated in the article and the comments which is why things are so confusing.

    For example, "happiness" is not the same as being "positive." Someone can be unhappy now but still choose to be optimistic about the future. Most articles also don't separate hedonic from eudamonic happiness. The former is what most people think of when they think of happiness (e.g. sex, food, money, etc.) whereas the latter is about creating a meaningful life even if that is not an easy one (e.g. Nelson Mandela).

    I have family members and friends who have weathered all type of adversity (e.g. war, suicide of a relative, death, poverty, disease, job loss, etc.) and yet they are some of the most positive people I know. They chose to move forward or take actions to do so rather than dwell in their misery, etc. If they needed help to do so -- whether medications, therapy, or something else -- they sought it out.

    This isn't about being a Debbie Downer or a Pollyanna but realistic optimism.

  188. Being around perennially positive people annoys me and makes me feel guilty about my own accepted belief that life is a series of ups and downs. In keeping with the season: Life is not always a bowl of cherries; it's also full of irritating pits...and the realistic acknowledgement that the season to enjoy them only lasts the summer.

  189. being positive doesn't mean happy-go-lucky or enthuiastic. it means having a consistent outlook that sees the glass as half full.

  190. Everything is vice versa - everything we see in our lives, including our surroundings and friends are the DIRECT reflection of our INNER being and beliefs. Probably you would start to argue and say that this is not so, but I could ask you - have seen, once, that pretty "positive" (I really don't believe in such a name as positivity) person would be having friendship with pretty "negative" person? Why he should do that? We have what we deserve in this very moment in life. I have had an amazing personal Self discovery journey in my life, when I deliberately canceled all my relationships with people which was based on my inner fear and self-doubt, and started to show up different kind of people in my life. I've changed my inner state of being and beliefs about myself, what I deserve and what drives, and my outer physical world changed pretty in an amazing way!


  191. “Life is too short to be around negative people,” she said. “I need people around me who care about me and are appreciative, and see the world as a glass half full, not half empty.”

    I agree with Carol Auerbach's assessment. I would simply add that having people in one's life that actually LISTENS and contributes to a conversation vs. merely yapping to here themselves pontificate on any given topic is paramount for me. The art of listening with compassion and genuine interest seems to be dying on the vine in some respects.

  192. The concept of a moai is beautiful, especially as loneliness is on the rise even as 'social' media proliferates. There is nothing as invaluable as deep, abiding friendship. Samuel Taylor Coleridge said it simply, and eloquently: "Friendship is a sheltering tree."

  193. And trees are what we need now more than ever. ( read “ The Overstory” by Richard Powell)

  194. This is an article for priveledged people, the kind that won the lifetime lottery and can insulate themselves in gluten-free goodness at Whole Foods. Life has darkness, and the greatest cultures were the ones who could face it with courage and maturity. The Greeks knew the lessons of tragedy. The Chinese knew a little yin was in every yang, or visa versa. And Buddha himself said life was suffering. We cannot turn a blind eye, in cult-like myopia, to the darker things in life. Bad things grow in the dark, while we’re looking the other way in our “safe spaces”. This is not to say we should dwell on the negativity, but we have to be mature enough to see its role in reality. There is a certain self-centered entitlement that we can shelter ourselves from the suffering of others and ostracize those who make us feel uncomfortable. We might as well build a wall. But sometimes, there are great treasures in the dark and deep. We find strength, courage, and love, we never knew we had.

  195. Thank you for writing this. I do wonder what happens when friends only choose to spend times with those other "perfect (exercise, drink, eat, outlook) people." How nice it must be for them to have a reason to exclude anyone whose tendency is to see the glass as half full. Better to let them (the half full people) wallow in their own sorrow than to reach out and risk bringing oneself down!

  196. Okinawans insulate themselves at Whole Foods?

  197. Thank you for pointing out the real life situation rather than the desirable life situation that every thing will be fine scenario. What is positive and what is negative? As long as news media tell us the whole truth, not the partial truth, I don't care it is positive or negative. I make my own decision to evaluate the situation.

  198. The clusters of long-lived people are more likely explained by genetics.

  199. The clean air and healthy gardens of these places has a lot to say for it.
    Most blue zones are temperate climates above the sea but exposed to sea breezes.
    He’ll, I’ll go!!!

  200. This article comes to me personally at a uncanny time. The last few months, I have thought about friends near and far, long and short term who rarely call or text me. I'm the nostalgic sentimental one at 62, who likes to yap and say hi to many. I have many friends throughout the years, from work and play, golf and sports. But there are more then a few who almost never reach out back to me. Always me leaving a message or texting or a quick email.,In the last month I have deleted these 5-7 long time friends and along with a ex wife from my Contacts. Not that I don't care or love them but my arm is tired reaching out. Some other time means never to me now. I hope I'm making the right choice.

  201. Gofertravel...you did the right and smart thing.

    Full speed ahead.

  202. The title of the article caught me attention, but what really got me interested was the question laid out right beneath the title. It's so simply and straight forward it kinda made me think about all my current friendships and it even gave me a chance to reflect on the ones I once had. In the friend group, I am labeled as the fun one, happy and outgoing, and perhaps the most positive. Oh and the mom of the group! I'm what one of my closest friends says, "The realest and the most honest. The friend I've always wanted." To be honest that flatters me greatly. Not only are they attracted to my persona, but also the value I put for life. This in a way has put me the center of attention of the friend group & it has even put some of my friends true colors out there & the envy of people to the light. To be honestly I socialize with everyone and anyone. Okay maybe not everyone stranger-danger, but Im know for making friendships rather quickly which is true. and some people find that as a threat or annoying. But just because I talk to everyone doesn't mean i'm friends with them all. This article helped me distinguish my healthy and unhealthy friendships and focus on those three to five five real-world friends as the article says instead of the big picture. And thankfully Ive discovered who those wonderful people are; who i share great memories and positive vibes with and have a great, happy and healthy friendship with. They're the ones who bring great value to life in a positive way!

  203. Just clicked how Tara Parker took the article to the end. But when I started reading the intro it just took me to body of the article, from the reason why should we surround ourselves with positive people to the Moai culture they follow in Japan- a lot of positivity. The thing we should accept that the postive people have the more effect than the perfect diet. Wow!

  204. "The Power of Positive People: Are your friendships giving you a boost or bringing you down?"
    I am drawn to this article because I am fascinated by how attitude could affect people around you. In the article, areas called blue zones are mentioned where people have a higher life average than anywhere else. In these areas, people of similar beliefs and likings often make an effort to hang out in a positive manner. The people in the blue zones offer support in many different ways including financial, social, and logistical. They provide a safe and comfortable environment full of positivity, which "appear" to affect human health. This can also be true to what I have witnessed with my classmates around me. I see kids surrounding themselves with those who are full of hate and sadness, and I am yet to see them happy and lifelike. I believe that energy spreads and either hurts or benefits those everywhere around you. I also observe people who share very a happy and positive stamina. Those with a more upbeat energy often appear to be more energetic and mentally strong. This also supports how positivity appears to help your health. After reading this article, I now think about the people who surround me are influencing me. I will try to surround myself with good and attempt to do the same for others encompassing me.

  205. The most enduring and satisfying friendships I’ve had, and the deepest conversations I’ve enjoyed, are with realists who value honesty, clarity, and kindness. I don’t know if those traits will increase longevity, but they sure make for a richer and more insightful understanding of life.

  206. I come from a humble background and developed my education over a good number of years. I still have high school friends and have fellow retiree friends now. I'm a positive thinker and a progressive. I enjoy life and that's good enough for me!

  207. "Dealing with negativity does not need good aptitude but good attitude. To find negativity in an extremely positive situation requires you to just be human. But to find positivity in an extremely negative situation requires you to be an evolved human".

    Shubha Vilas Spiritual seeker.

    I agree with the sentiment (one of the top rated comment) that there is little purpose being associated with people pretend to be "optimistic" and "positive" who at the first opportunity "throw you under the bus".

    Rather crux of the issue is the attitude of facing life challenges. Problems are your best chance to prove your maturity. Anyone can fake maturity in fair weather, but to act maturely in tough climates is a sign of wisdom.

    Ramayana the revered Indian epic, Lord Rama was ordered to forfeit his kingdom and go in to 14 years of exile in forest. Instead of contesting the banishment, Lord Rama dealt with the challenge from a higher level. He said that he was awaiting such an opportunity where he could unload his burden of responsibilities and learn from the sages in the forest. When an eagle is attacked by a flock of crows, it chooses to fly higher and out of the crows' reach rather than fight back. Rather than delve into negative situations, Rama chose to focus on the positives awaiting him.

    When a good attitude comes in contact with a bad problem, the result is an inspirational elevation of self.

    One cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that caused the problem.