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Recently, I interviewed Dr. Tony O’Donnell.  If you do not know Tony, he is by all means not a slacker.  Tony is the author of 15 books, a television and radio personality, third degree black belt, regularly volunteers time to feed the homeless, recently finished his PhD and is a naturopathic doctor.  At 58 years old, he is just getting started.

Keep Evolving to Be More Productive…

One of the most profound things about Tony is that he is constantly evolving.  I have known him for over a decade and every time we connect, he is embarking on a new project (most recently filming for one of Steve Harvey’s shows) or taking up a new form of exercise (this time – Pilates on the reformer).  Tony, although a daily practitioner of meditation and mindfulness, is not one to allow complacency to overtake his existence. In our interview, he openly shared that he has been gradually de-cluttering his life including his friend group.

Last fall, when I became very ill from my trip to Africa, I spent many days in bed reflecting on my life.  Larger questions such as, ‘what legacy do I want to leave?’ and, ‘have I been a solid enough role model for my children?’ occupied my thoughts.  I also made the decision that I would stop allowing negative people to impact my life and thus began a gradual withdrawal from certain situations and unfriending people from social media.

In other words, I decided to re-claim my life and elevate my standards. Becoming more productive was a bonus…

I once read that on average only four people cry at a funeral.  I felt that if someone wasn’t going to cry at my funeral then they didn’t earn a place in my life.

The infamous quote by the late Jim Rohn is often cited as a reason to cull our friend group.  Mr. Rohn said, “We are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with.” 

That was before social media where we could log-on and be surrounded by thousands of ‘friends.’ If we are not getting the results we want in our life then perhaps the first action to take is to take a solid look at the people we are modeling and listening to the most.

When we detoxify our bodies, we rid ourselves of impurities that can make us sick.

Some cancers, for example, are linked to toxins.  Once these toxins are removed, we often feel more energized, more focused, happier, and more productive.

Thus, if detoxifying our bodies can make us healthier, then can detoxifying our friend group make us more productive?

Is the risk of not breaking free of negative people that we inherently increase our bad choices?

A study conducted at Temple University by Gardner and Steinberg, found that peer group influence was a factor in risky behavior that could inflict self-harm.  Furthermore, the study found that age was also a factor; inherently we become less risk tolerant as we grow older.  Who we choose to surround ourselves with at an early age can act as a catalyst toward our actions. These actions either support our life moving in a positive direction or not.

So, if our friends in adolescence have a strong influence on us, what about our adult peer group?  The answer is a resounding yes.  In Amy Morin’s Huffington Post article, she illustrated five ways in which our peers affect us, citing numerous clinical studies.  The summary is that our friends affect everything from our self-discipline, our thinking about the world, our ability to stay positive, and our motivation to better our lives.

My question to you is this – who are you listening to the most?  Are you allowing negative people to influence your life?


If your life isn’t where you want it to be then it is time to detoxify your friend group.  It isn’t easy letting go of people however if you are stuck then something needs to change.  A powerful start is to simply love people where they are at.  Dr. Wayne Dyer used to counsel that a profound exercise is to make a list of people whom you feel have been hurtful to you and say, ‘I forgive you and I forgive myself.’  After this you can burn the list lovingly knowing that people are indeed on their own journey and it is often the most benevolent thing we can do to allow them to learn what it is they need to without becoming collateral damage.

Over the course of the past few months I have unfriended some negative people, said ‘no’ to events where I knew there would be toxic individuals, and continued to silently say Dr. Dyer’s blessing over them.  Lesson Five in A Course In Miracles teaches us to think about negative people, and circumstances, and recite, ‘I am not angry at ____ for the reason I think I am.’  I use this often fully understanding that I choose to see situations in a certain way and conversely, I can choose to see the same person, or situation, in another way.

Start thinking deeply about your relationships.  Ask yourself if you are being negatively influenced.  If so, who do you need to lovingly let go of?  When we consciously bless and release people, we make room for more positive influences to come into our lives.  Know that you are worth it.  You have a powerful destiny to fulfill and listening to anyone who is a negative influence will only serve to keep you from the life you dream of.


Susan Sly is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist.  Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives.  She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.



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