Surviving to Thriving: Surround Yourself with Positive, Like-Minded People (Part 4 of 5)

Last week I reconnected with one of my favourite people in the world.  You know the kind of person I am talking about…the kind of person who is filled with love and positivity and lights up a room when he walks in.  The kind of person who has accomplished so much in his own life and touched the lives of countless other people in positive ways.  The kind of person who has every reason to have a big ego but instead is self-effacing, humble, and amazingly charming.

Some of you might know him – Hernan Humana is just that kind of person.  Hernan was my coach on the York University Varsity Women’s Volleyball team and also my coach when I was competing on the Canadian National beach volleyball team in World Tour events.  He is the epitome of a high achiever – he represented Chile on both the National volleyball and basketball teams as an athlete and then coached indoor and beach volleyball teams at the highest levels.

His most recent and epic accomplishment is writing his own book.  His book is called “Playing Under the Gun: An Athlete’s Tale of Survival in 1970s Chile.”  It is a moving, eloquently written, autobiographical account of Hernan’s experiences representing his beloved country of Chile during an era of brutal dictatorship under Pinochet’s regime. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you are looking for a great new book to read!


Until his book launch a couple of months ago, I hadn’t seen Hernan in awhile.  We used to see each other regularly when I was still playing volleyball but since I stopped exercising three years ago, I haven’t spent a lot of time at the beach. Last week, the stars aligned and we ended up getting together twice for coffee; it was like no time had passed at all and we had such a great time catching up.

Seeing Hernan again reminded me of how important it is to surround myself with positive, like-minded people. There are many success experts that talk about the importance of choosing the five people you spend the most time with wisely.  This is because studies show that people actually become the most similar to the five people with whom they spend the most time.

This has important implications:

  • if the people you spend the most time with are negative, complain a lot and don’t do much to improve themselves or their lives, you are likely to become negative, complain a lot and settle for things that dissatisfy you in your life;
  • conversely, if you spend your time with positive people who raise you up, are driven to become better versions of themselves and are living their lives with purpose, you will be a positive person who raises others up, become a better version of yourself and live a life of purpose.

This is pretty powerful, isn’t it?

This doesn’t mean that you need to cut off all ties to friends or family who you might categorize as a bit (or a lot) negative.  Rather, it means that you can deliberately work to increase the amount of time that you spend with like-minded, positive people.  In other words, find your fabulous five and spend as much time as you can with them!

One of the quickest and most exciting ways to do this is to find a community (ideally where you can meet face-to-face) of like-minded, supportive, positive people that you can connect with on a regular basis.  If finding an in-person community is too difficult, finding an online community can also work.

My husband, Robby, loves adventure motorcycling.  He has a group of friends that he regularly connects with to plan out the next big trip.  After he connects with these friends, he’s so invigorated and excited about his life!  Being part of a community is a basic human need and finding “your tribe” is a powerful way to get excited about your life again.

Whether your interests lie in volleyball, working out, mixed martial arts, reading or writing (I know what you are thinking: “Kirsten, you just listed all the things you like there!”  That’s true…but that really is the benefit of writing whatever I want here, right?), find a community of positive people who are all aiming their lives in a similar direction.

I’ve found a great community of people who cheer me on and are always rooting for my success (and of course, I’m always cheering them on and rooting for their success too – it’s a pretty amazing and wonderful thing!).  For many of us high achievers who are stuck in survival mode, finding a positive group of people can be the factor that moves us from merely surviving to thriving.

Post a comment and let me know if you have a group of positive, like-minded people to surround yourself with and how that has changed your life!


5 thoughts on “Surviving to Thriving: Surround Yourself with Positive, Like-Minded People (Part 4 of 5)

  1. I was reading some of your past blogs and there is one idea that I fully embrace on a daily basis: “choose to be happy.” So true, dear Kirsten, to face our daily routines with a positive attitude; we choose our response to the daily challenges. Your journey, with your health challenges, is fascinating and I am glad I can witness it as you and your wonderful family, move along. The best to you since you are the one who is inspiring many today.


    • Thanks Hernan! I appreciate having you as a positive influence in my life and as a role model for “choosing happy.” This philosophy has helped me manage the inexplicable things that have been happening to my body and maintain my positivity throughout. Here’s to many more years of friendship and to continuing to impact the world in a positive way.


  2. Kristen, it was a pleasure to meet you and your wonderful family. Your words definitely have inspired me to identify those people I spend the most time with and to value their time, their quality time. Hernan Humana is in fact, a wonderful man, partner, best friend and inspiration to me and many others; we happen to have him in our lives and as you said, what a positive vibe he brings to us and all of you who know him. Thank you for embracing a powerful and meaningful well being, be positive, be happy, surround yourself with those you love and share the love… Wishing you all the best and success in all your adventurous, with love, Paola


    • It was a pleasure to meet you too! Thanks for the kind words. I am so happy that the two of you have found one another to share this journey! I am inspired by your amazing work with children with autism – you make the world a better place every day and that is an amazing legacy!


  3. Pingback: Why a Two-Time Canadian National Beach Volleyball Champion No Longer Exercises | Kirsten Manley-Casimir, PhD

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