We all have friends who make us wince when they walk in. We know that within five minutes they will have us completely depressed, and feeling that there is nothing we can do about it. Their lives are desperate, sad, tragic, bored or whatever, and odds on you have a sympathetic ear, so you listen and they keep coming back to tell you more.

Do you know why? Because it makes them feel better. They make you feel like you want to jump out the nearest window, and they leave whistling and smelling the roses. Now this is crazy.

If you are surrounded by people like this, it's not going to be hard to change--it's going to be near impossible. It may be hard to get them out of your life because they're your biggest customer, a relative or your business partner. But whatever else you do, you really do need to draw a line in the sand. If more of the people you mix with are negative than positive, you have a problem, which will only get worse over time and keep you trapped in the cycle of feeling overwhelmed.

I made a very conscious decision a number of years ago about the type of people I would have in my life. I want to be surrounded by energetic, enthusiastic and positive people who are getting on with their lives. I don't care what they do for a living, how much money they have or who they know. All I care about is their zest for life. These people inspire me and motivate me to be the best person I can be; they are supportive of any decision or change that will help me to achieve this goal. If I fail, they are the first people to support me and say at least I gave it a go.

If I listened to the negative people I wouldn't do anything, because life is clearly so damn messed up that there is nothing I can possibly do that would make it any better. There is no malicious intent in these people, it's just a reflection of where they are at in life at the time. And that is sad, but we all need to decide if we want to be equally sad. I made the decision not to and that was that.

I suggest that you develop a way of keeping such people at arm's length. Some of them won't like you for it, and they will tell you so. Be prepared for some repercussions, but stay resilient because the pay-off is big.