These positive emotions in turn orient us to keep behaving in ways that promote our continued experience of these positive emotional states. And even when it seems like luck is not on our side and we can't catch a break, we can always stand behind our choice to do our best in spite of the actual outcome--which is a valued outcome in itself and likely worth the effort. What makes a strong friendship? The answer would seem to vary from person to person, but back in 1984, researchers Michael Argyle and Monika Henderson pinned down some specific answers when conducting an international study on friendships that attempted to determine which rules are important for sustaining close social ties. Surveying subjects in Britain, Italy, Hong Kong, and Japan, the examiners proposed forty-three "friendship rules" to the participants, who were to answer how important each rule was to them in relation to friendship. They followed this up with studies that found differences in rule keeping between active friendships and those that had ended or lapsed, as well as with a study aimed at determining the role that the breaking of particular rules played in the dissolution of friendships. These findings pointed to six rules that made the biggest impact in the strength and continuity of friendships: Make these rules a priority in your friendships and find ways to follow them more closely. While a new job introduces you to a new social circle, it has been found to hurt existing friendships. A longitudinal study looked at how transitioning into a job impacts individuals' social networks at three time periods, asking seventy-seven university students who were about to enter the workforce to write down up to fifty members of their social circles, detailing their interactions with each. They did the same about a year later, then another year after that. The researchers, Donna L. Sollie and Judith L. Fischer, concluded that there is "a partial withdrawal from friends and an increase in kin contact" among those who start a new job. As subjects developed further in their careers, the number of friends in their social networks decreased, as did the amount of time they spent with those friends. At each stage the researchers examined, the friend groups included more than one-third friends who were new to the network. The researchers summarized, "being further along in one's career is likely to result in a somewhat smaller network." At the same time, the study found that respondents expressed greater commitment to remaining in their friendships as they moved further along in their careers (something that was not seen in relation to family members). When starting a new job, block out time to spend with your friends, or prepare to lose some of them. While it's hardly a surprise that we drink more when out with friends, it turns out that the more friends, the more we drink. A study in Switzerland found that the number of friends present at the table has been associated with the amount one drinks. The study showed that the higher the number of friends present, the higher the number of drinks consumed per person per hour.

Interestingly enough, while men generally drink more--and faster--than women, this difference becomes even greater when friends are involved. Despite intellectually knowing that a bit of effort pays off, our urge is to be comfortable now! Which is why we ignore the ringing phone (and think "I'll call them tomorrow"), stay in our pajamas (and think "Let me just check my email first, then I'll get dressed and leave..."), stay silent (and think "What's the point? It won't make any difference if I say anything"), don't participate (and think, "I'll never be able to pull that off"), and stay on Facebook, watch TV, or shop (because we're afraid of that still, small voice inside). Average is a conscious decision. Getting average results is a conscious decision. Having your act together as much as the average person is a conscious decision! Above average isn't an accident. It happens when you decide you're not happy being average. It happens when you make the decision to do what average people won't do. It happens when you decide to put in more than the average amount of time and effort. To pull away from average and move into the upper-echelon of the elite, the people who have it together, identify what the average person is focusing on and spending time on and then avoid those things. Identify how much work and effort the average person is putting in and do more than they'd ever be willing to do. Innately, innately everything about you is great, everything about you is phenomenal. But the problem is you have consciously chosen to be average. You are average in school, you are average at your work place, everything you do is average and not because its average but because you made a decision. You made a choice to be average - why? Because the people around you are average, or maybe you grew up in an average environment, or went to an average school, or you work for an average company. So that's why you go to the basketball game, that's why you spend hours watching your favorite athlete like Michael, and you watch them... you watch them...

there's something about this attracted to that greatness because there is something in you that's great. That's why you put those headphones on and you just shut the whole world out and you listen to your favorite artist - you listen to them sing or you listen to them rap and deep down inside you hurt when you listen because it should be you! You are attracted to greatness because greatness is all in you. But it's easier to watch greatness, it's easier to go see greatness than it is to put in the time, to put in the energy, to discipline yourself, to sacrifice - it's easier! And so that's why you average, and so you're frustrated because you're not living like you should live. No - you don't have what you should have, you're not being who you should be. I can't find exactly who said this but I like to think of it as, "Anyone not on a focused path to make life better for themselves or their family is simply wasting time doing absolutely nothing." Average people are spending time doing nothing. They're "hanging out", spending hours playing on social media, and when they get home from their job, a job in which they think they're actually doing "something", they're wasting time sitting around, "relaxing", and feeling like they're making an actual effort and difference in their life. Day in and day out, the countless hours they waste could be contributed towards something much bigger and better. Something that, over the course of time, will change their life. Average people don't go to sleep thinking about the progress they made on their goals and path throughout the day. Average people don't wake up thinking about goals and targets that need to be reached, met, and hit. Average people aren't on a "path" that's much more important than themselves. They have nothing important to get excited about. Nothing to look forward to each day. Nothing to feel "pulled" towards. Greatness doesn't happen by accident. It comes down to the decisions you're making every minute of the day. Selfishness gets you nowhere. The value I mentioned will come across in the generosity of your friendship.

If you're the type of friend who only gives to people who have given to you, you'll develop a relationship as someone who is difficult and selfish. However, if you focus your energy into giving to anyone who needs your help and openly providing insights and time to those who need it, you'll not only make lots of friends, you'll retain them. This goes hand in hand with avoiding manipulation and providing value. You need to hit a happy medium where the men and women who you meet can see a powerful personality with a lot to offer that isn't going to let them take advantage. It's a hard line to walk, but if you maintain your confidence and work at displaying empathy to those around you, it will grow much easier over time. Write down the last time you upset someone. Was it justified or not? Make a list of friends you spend at least 2 hours per week with. How do you spend your time? How willing are you to find new friends? Ask a friend or family member to provide criticism on three areas of your choice. Examples include: love life, how you talk, your health, your activity level, your hobbies. Now, dissect that criticism and look for things that you can take action on now without changing your core personality. Don't get upset. Just set aside anything that isn't practical or constructive. Write down the last five mistakes you made in life and the steps you made to amend and fix those problems. Were you successful? No matter how far your mood drops, keep these behaviors going. No matter how frequently you are crying, how much you're dreading parts of your life, or whether you feel like you're in a crisis, engage in these behaviors like clockwork. The more these behaviors become part of your habitual routine, the easier it becomes to follow through--no matter that you feel extremely lousy and that your thoughts are compelling you to stay lying down, on the couch, watching Netflix.

I also hope you took away a language to describe your painful, intense, and loud emotions that make you act quickly and that often create more stress in the long run. When you put words to emotions, you activate frontal parts of your brain that shake up the limbic hold the emotional experience has on you. Your ability to write out your trigger and emotional response, in and of itself, is therapeutic. With the added skills, especially diaphragmatic breathing, you have the ability to extend the length of time between your urge and what you actually choose to do. You have a language that can help you make a choice that doesn't exclusively value your comfort in the moment at the expense of your future self. Understanding your triggers doesn't just help you navigate a moment differently. It might also teach you that making a big-scale change might decrease the likelihood that certain triggers happen in the first place. If specific situations constantly get you riled, is this communicating something about your surroundings? Is there a chance to make a change? Understanding your triggers also teaches you about yourself, what makes you tick, and gives you a chance to have compassion for yourself. You might connect the dots that early life experiences continue to have an effect on you as you realize, "Wow, ever since that happened, I'm always concerned that..." And remember, there's nothing inherently wrong with having strong emotional responses to internal and external triggers. That's part of being human, part of how your brain is wired, and part of how your mind makes sense of your life history and current environment. You have an opportunity to embrace your reaction, own your reaction, and then intervene at the level of behavior. You have the chance to say: "I get why I'm responding the way I am. Now, what is my best option for what to do next?" As you got in the habit of creating a daily schedule, I hope it started to become second nature to notice that you do more when you have daily structure. I also hope you started to get strategic about when and how to schedule moments that feel intuitively good and right. These moments likely feel this way because you've chosen to act in a way that is consistent with your guiding values and priorities. And I hope you have started to let it feel good every time you wrote down the "Yes" that indicates your actual activity was your planned activity, and then wrote "No" because a TRAP did not get in the way, thank you very much. The more practice you have gained following through on your goals, the more you may have found yourself wanting to celebrate these momentary victories with others, and the more you may have found your narrative shifting. The stories we tell ourselves are powerful.