Here’s a Quick Way to Understand What Influences You for Better or Worse

Diane Wing, M.A
Word Count: 746
Title count with spaces: 72 (if too long, remove the word “Here’s” from the title)
Bio: 67 words

Remember when your parents categorized your friends as those who were a good influence versus a bad one? As a teenager, it's difficult to see how others impact your decisions and your mindset. In adulthood, it becomes more apparent that those you choose to have in our circle definitely hold sway on the choices you make and the way you feel. Awareness of how you feel around certain people, in specific environments, and in particular circumstances is essential for understanding how they influence your life.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, for everything you encounter and experience influences the ideas, behaviors, and actions that color your daily life, as well as your creative expression. From the political and social trends of the decade in which you were born to the books you read last week, they all have an impact on you emotionally, mentally, and creatively.

These influences can be seen in the work of authors and musicians. A love affair gone wrong was the inspiration for Alanis Morissett's battle cry, You Oughta Know. Stephen King's childhood had a powerful influence on his writing, as he describes in his book, On Writing. Ernest Hemingway's wartime and fishing adventures, alcoholism, as well as his life in Key West came out in his books. David Bowie's time in Berlin, Germany resulted in his albums Low and Heroes, which sounded very different than his previous works.

The trips you take to experience foreign lands or other cultures within your homeland have an effect on the way you see the world and your place in it, as does the culture you grew up in. It will come through in the way you speak, the ideas that come forward, and the decisions you make as to how best to live your life. There are those who go away on vacation and decide to stay in that place permanently, leaving their old way of being behind.

Exercise: Consider these questions in determining the how, what, and why of factors that influence your life:

- Who are the people you admire, trust, or have faith in? Why?
- Who do you want to emulate? In what regard?
- What experiences have you had? Which are the most impactful and which had a long-term effect on you? In what ways?
- How do the people around you influence you for better or worse?
- Which decade were you born in?
- What music do you listen to?
- What books do you read?
- Which TV shows and movies do you watch?
- What medications do you take? What substances (drugs/alcohol) do you use? What side effects do they have, and how does that influence your health, energy level, motivation, or perception?

All of these influence your creativity, your emotional state, your motivation, and your mindset. They can be inspirational or limiting. Imagine adjusting just one influencing factor that takes you off center. How would your life change? What could you accomplish that you can’t under the current circumstances?

For example, if you have just ended a relationship and are listening to non-stop lost-love songs, odds are this will influence the degree and longevity of the sadness you experience. Try switching to upbeat, hopeful, and motivating music and see how quickly your mood changes.

Another example is being around people who constantly complain. If you decide to join in and perpetuate the complaining, then your anger and frustration level will be heightened. By refusing to participate and avoiding complainers, see how much calmer and hopeful you feel. Another option is to get motivated and find a solution to problems that are in your scope of control, thereby creating relief for all concerned.

If you feel like you're in a rut or need to move your mind in new directions, try a brand new experience, read a new author, watch a new program, or interact with a different group of people than usual. Change your surroundings by driving to a park that's not the one you normally walk in. Listen to some new music and see how it feels to you.

Fresh energy is created in this way, helping to overcome the stagnation that comes from the same old stuff experienced in the same old way. Recognize the influence that your experiences have on you and whether or not they better your situation.

Copyright Diane Wing, all rights reserved
Diane Wing, M.A. is a tree hugger, avid reader, blockage buster, perspective changer, creator, and pet parent to a Shih Tzu named Chrissy. She gets energized from continuous learning and strives to help her clients be happy in the present while creating their ideal future. If you’re tired of skimming the surface of what’s holding you back and are ready to see things differently, go to

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