Growing up, we heard it from so many authority figures, it probably began to sound like a broken record:
"You are the company you keep."
But, in hindsight, they had a point. If you choose to only surround yourself with people of the same circumstance, background and age group, you are setting yourself up to have an extremely boring, homogenous life.
Your perspective will be severely limited to the viewpoints of people exactly like you. I’m not saying being yourself is a horrible thing, but how will you be able to know if who you are is the person you're supposed to be?
Are you merely a reflection of the people around you?
Variety is the spice of life, and versatile people can expose you to ideas and lifestyles you never would have considered before.
So, if you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone, here are five types of people who will propel your perspective to new levels:
1. The Wise Guru
Young people harbor a common misconception that we can’t be friends with people much older than us. We believe older people couldn’t possibly relate to anything we are going through.
But, what do you think they were before they got older? Yes, they were young once, too!
Having wise friends who are well into their golden years is like having an older version of yourself with more wisdom, life experience and perspective.
If you make a genuine effort to step outside of the box, there are a plethora of opportunities to encounter your very own Mr. Miyagi.
Smile and take some cookies to your elderly neighbor’s house or volunteer at a nursing home on the weekends.
If nothing else, schedule regular kickback sessions with your grandparents.
However you do it, the wisdom of someone who’s walked through life for much longer than you have is invaluable. Trust me, they will benefit from this time as much as you will.
2. The “Phoebe”
Your mind needs a “Phoebe” as much as Chandler needed Monica. These are free spirits who march to the beat of the drums in their own heads.
This is the friend who will convince you to take a last-minute road trip to desert hot springs, who will pull you into the pouring rain and dance around until both of you are soaked in happiness and who will remind you to chill out when you’re taking life too seriously.
It is in this perons' nature to live in the moment, seek adventure and view the world through rose-colored glasses.
Sure, his or her hippie ways may drive you crazy, and you still have yet to figure out how this person pays the bills and functions in daily life.
Sometimes, however, you need a reminder to stop and smell the roses.
3. The Over-Achiever
We all know these people: They were child prodigies, made varsity teams as freshmen and graduated with honors.
They make more money than your entire group of friends (combined) and can bench press more than you weigh, all while still finding time to volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club on weekends.
They are so incredibly put together and disciplined, it gives you heartburn. Instead of allowing jealousy and resentment to take over, embrace these freaks of nature as resources to advise you on how to become a champion at life, too.
Find out what their habits and behaviors are. Ask them to teach you the secrets that led them to success.
If they are as truly dynamic as they seem, they would love nothing more than to lead a friend to victory, as well.
4. The Mentee
You know how I said everyone needs a Mr. Miyagi in his or her life to teach the ways of the world? Here’s your chance to be that for someone else.
Mentoring a young person (preferably someone at least seven to 10 years younger than you) will give you just as much joy and happiness as you will bestow upon him or her.
Mentoring someone not only allows you to be a much-needed positive influence in his or her life, but it also reminds you how it feels to be a kid again.
A child absorbs the world in wide-eyed wonder and notices the minute details adults often miss. It’s like rediscovering yourself.
Imagine the impact you will have on a child who has no other role models to look up to. You may be the only person who took the time to hear him or her all day.
Volunteer at a group home, help out as a mentor at an inner-city school or simply help a nephew or niece with his or her homework.
Consistency is key in this case because the last thing you want to do is bail on a child who could develop a real connection with you.
5. The Man In The Mirror
Nothing expands your perspective more than truly getting to know yourself.
When we’re young, we tend to care more about making new friends, following the trends and receiving others' approval instead of truly knowing ourselves.
You will never fulfill your potential if you don’t take the time to discover who you are.
Spend time alone; journal; treat yourself to a solo vacay, or just hang out at a coffee shop by yourself.
Not only will this expand your mind, but it will feed your spirit, too.
Most importantly, do you want to go through life not knowing what a kick-ass person you are? I don’t know about you, but I crack myself up.
Sometimes, I have more fun hanging out with myself than I do with others. Nothing renews and refreshes the mind quite like solo time and reflection.
Having diverse people around is about more than just a lesson on how to expand your perspective.
Hearing the stories and viewpoints of someone who is completely different than you instills a measure of empathy that doesn’t usually cultivate itself when you only surround yourself with people you can relate to.
Experiences with versatile people will make you realize the similarities between us far outweigh the differences.
Sure, you’re growing in wisdom and perspective, but for a moment, you are seeing the world through their eyes.
You don’t necessarily need to agree with them, but you learn to respect that we are all unique, dynamic beings with something to offer the world, regardless of age, personality or background.
This universe could use a big dose of empathy and understanding right about now, so be open and dare to step outside of your bubble.