10 Things I’ve Learned

March 30, 2007 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

I’ve just finished reading an essay at Milton Glaser Inc . It’s called 10 Things I’ve Learned and it’s very well written. My favourite part would have to be #3-

This is a subtext of number one. There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. Gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

It struck me because it is so simple and so true, yet it’s so often over looked in our lives. We keep toxic people around in our lives for many reasons, because we think we should, because we’ve known them a long time, because it would be too hard to just let them go. We’re afraid to take that first step to move away from something that is hurting us and holding us back.

I’m very grateful and lucky to have friends that energize me and renew me. The other night I got off the phone with my best friend of about 18 years. We had been discussing a stressful situation that’s been going on, and she had called to offer some ideas. I got off the phone with her feeling like the situation wasn’t as bad as it looked, and I felt positive about the situation. That’s what an interaction with a good friend should do, make you feel a bit better than you did before.

 What would our lives look like if we overhauled our address books and remained in contact only with our nourishing friends?  How much would it take to push us to take that first step?


Entry filed under: Friends, Life Lessons.

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