Every now and then I need to do an inventory of the people with whom I spend the most time. Since these people all have an impact on my life, good, bad, or indifferent, it’s important to check whether I still want or need what they add, or subtract, from my life—and I don't mean just Facebook friends.

If this seems a little heartless, stay with me for a minute. People come and go from our lives on a regular basis. Often times, we have no say whether we have to deal with these individuals. Your job means dealing with co-workers and customers, bosses, and managers.

There are folks on committees with you that irritate every time they open their mouths.

And let’s face it, some of the best and worst people in your life can be in your own family. So what do you do to add more happy relationships and limit the unhappy ones? Here are a few ideas to try:

Examine the reasons

Think about each person you know and spend time with, and ask yourself what it is about him or her that you enjoy or find difficult. Do you have unresolved issues that need to be cleared up? If someone makes you feel emotions that you would rather bury, perhaps it’s time to approach that person and clear things up.

You may need to forgive them for past mistakes, or decide on a strategy for interaction going forward.

Likewise, what makes you especially delight in someone’s company? Are they positive, affirming, or do they laugh a lot? When you examine your emotions versus the other’s behavior, you can get to the bottom of what works for you, and what you need to fix to make relationships work better. Good friendships are even good for your health.

Choose wisely

There are some relationships that we can’t avoid, like it or not. However, there are many that we drift into without consciously making the choice. Remember, you get to choose how you spend this one amazing life you’ve been given. That includes with whom you spend your time.

Limit or expand

As part of your relationship inventory, you’ll probably see where you would like to limit time with some folks, and expand time with others.

If you know you’d like to spend more time with Sue, a woman at work, because she has a gift for making everyone laugh, then make an effort. Invite her on an outing with you, or plan to take in an event together that you both enjoy. Don’t wait for someone else to make the move.

If you’ve been spending too much time with someone who gets you down, you’ll need to either repair the relationship, or spend less time together. Remember, you can’t change anyone else so there’s no point trying. You can, however, get new friends and control the amount of energy they add or subtract from your life.

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