Life has a funny way of connecting human beings. It could be chance encounters at a coffee shop, camaraderie in a computer game, or an interaction at a convention. We meet all types of people in our daily lives, but some people aren’t good people to spend time with. How can we mingle with positive people?

They say you are the company that you keep, or that birds of a feather flock together. If you spend the majority of your time around people who are negative, brusque, rude, and dismissive, you’ll likely start to pick up some of these characteristics. Instead, you should seek out people who have a positive, cheerful demeanour. While no one is happy ALL the time, try to hang out with people who are positive MOST of the time. You cannot have a mentally fit brain if you are constantly around whiners and complainers.

Your Brain And Negativity Is Not a Good Thing 

The problem with negativity is that we are often saturated in it. When you read reviews online, how many are negative? Which ones stand out in your mind? We have many great experiences, but we don’t usually write good reviews. But bad reviews? Everyone loves to speak up!

Consider your personal life. Do you usually talk about all the great things you have going on, or do you focus on something that isn’t going your way? We seem to focus on what’s going wrong instead of all the good things. Mingling with positive people can help you focus on those fantastic things, increase performance, and stop complaining about every little problem.

Neuroticism and negative emotions tend to go hand-in-hand, along with other traits including self-consciousness, irritability, and anxiety. A recent neuroscience study hypothesised that structural variations would be present in the brains of neurotic people, especially in areas of the brain associated with threat and punishment like the medial prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus and the amygdala. Using imaging techniques, scientists discovered reduced volume in the prefrontal cortex and the posterior hippocampus.1

I always tell young girls, surround yourself with goodness. I learned early on how to get the haters out of my life.

Michelle Obama

I Increasing Performance By Improving Mental Readiness

The i4 Neuroleader Model supports the development of a brain-friendly culture. We can improve the performance of all the brains in an organisation to increase well-being and engagement.2 Positive effects from increased performance won’t only improve conditions at work, but in many personal aspects of life, as well.

One of the key elements of mental readiness is having confidence in yourself, and this includes having the confidence to choose positive people to be around. Ask yourself some of these questions if you are unsure about the motives of certain companions, colleagues, family members, or friends.

  • Do they support you?
  • Do you feel happy around them?
  • Do they help you achieve your goals?

And perhaps the most difficult question of all--are YOU a positive force in the lives of those around you?

We can choose to be around people who lift us up, who are mostly positive, and who support us. Leaders who have a high state of mental fitness will make better decisions and will be more agile and receptive to change. So, avoid the negative complainers and fuel your self-development to expand the capacity of your brain to create and inspire.


1. DeYoung CG, Hirsh JB, Shane MS, Papademetris X, Rajeevan N, Gray JR. Testing Predictions From Personality Neuroscience: Brain Structure and the Big Five. Psychological science. 2010;21(6):820-828. doi:10.1177/0956797610370159.

2. McLennan K. Building Leaders for the Imagination Age: The Case for the i4 Model.  About my Brain Institute. 2016;1. [White Paper].

Originally posted on: 16 April 2019
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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