There’s a great saying I heard from someone (and after a bit of Googling all I could find is that it comes from a magazine article published many years ago) that there are two types of people in the world: radiators and drains. Radiators, are people who are up for everything and approach life with a can-do attitude. Drains, on the other hand, seem to exist merely to suck the life out of any situation.
Safe to say, I think we’d all prefer not only to be radiators, but also to be around radiators. So here are some ideas for pumping out more heat and positive energy into the world…radiator style.
A smile is an amazingly simple tool for instantly giving out positive energy to those around you and, as a bonus, it’s likely to make you feel better too. There’s a great scene in the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ where the heroine of the story, Liz Gilbert, is instructed in the art of Balinese meditation and told to simply sit and smile. She comments: “I feel better already.” And it’s so true. Smiling is probably the easiest first step to becoming more of a radiator.
So smile when you’re alone, smile at your loved ones, smile at strangers, smile, smile, smile! As a child I was nicknamed the ‘Magic Smile Maker’ because I was always smiling and was famous for managing to make even the grumpiest people cheer up a little bit.
2) Don’t complain too much
If the easiest path to becoming a radiator is to smile, the easiest route to becoming a drain is to complain. Eckhart Tolle, in his fabulous book The Power of Now, views complaining as the symptom of non-acceptance of what is and argues that it invariably carries a negative charge because it makes you a victim. Tolle explains that the way to avoid complaining is to either leave a situation or accept it. Everything else, he argues, is madness.
I’ve found that in England one of the most common things people complain about is the weather. Funnily though, it’s not just the cold and the grey weather people moan about, but also the heat in summer or the snow at Christmas. It sometimes seems that no weather is good enough for the English. If only people could just accept whatever weather it is and stop all the pointless complaining. If it’s cold and grey, stay inside and snuggle up by the fire. If it’s hot, go and lie in the sun and have a picnic. If it’s snowing, wrap up and go out for a wintry walk. Do anything apart from complain!
3) Take an interest in other people
A great way of giving out positive energy, I’ve noticed, is to really take an interest in people. My dad’s partner is definitely a radiator and a big reason for this is that she is genuinely interested in other people. She’s a great listener, asks interesting questions, and somehow always moves the focus onto other people. And I think it’s fair to say that people love it!
Susan Jeffers, in her book Dare to Connect, says that you must focus on being interested instead of interesting. She observes that the people who go on and on about themselves, desperately trying to impress people with how wonderful they are, are big bores. So don’t fall into that trap. Cultivate a genuine curiosity and interest in other people and I’m sure you’ll be well on your way to becoming more of a radiator.
4) Stop competing
Along with becoming more interested in other people, another great way of becoming more of a radiator is to stop competing. Jeffers, in her book Dare to Connect, explains that from birth, we go into ‘Somebody Training’. We are taught by everyone around us that we are supposed to be a ‘Somebody’ in this world. And a ‘Somebody’ is typically defined as a person who has achieved some measure of external success by constantly competing with others.
The problem with this, she argues, is that competition emphasizes our individual differences and makes us distant from one another. Instead of feeling like a ‘Somebody’, we end up feeling like a nobody! So, she argues, we must learn to step away from all the competing and instead try and focus on what we can give in our lives rather than only what we can get.
5) Replace judgment with compassion
I like to think that there is a little bit of good in everyone. For that reason, I do my best not to judge other people. Judgement, I think, is one of the most toxic things in relationships. I used to have a friend at university (emphasis on the past-tense) who was incredibly judgmental of others. She’d constantly be making bitchy comments and snide remarks about other people and in a very short amount of time I realised that she wasn’t a very nice person and a big drain and who wants to spend time with people like that? Certainly not me!
I think it’s all too easy to judge people and a far more important challenge to try and find the good in them. People who are radiators, I’ve found, are experts at this and are much happier for it.
6) Help others
I’ve found that a good way of feeling more like a radiator inside and out is to always find ways to help others. Maybe you could try volunteering at a charity (I help out at a local Hospice and it’s incredibly rewarding), surprising your partner by doing the chores to give them a break, or giving up your seat on the bus to an elderly person. The smallest things, I think, go a long way in making you a kinder, more compassionate, and warmer person. Just like a radiator.
7) Be yourself
For me, people who are comfortable in their own skin are incredibly nice to be around. They give off a wonderfully warm and authentic vibe that other people can’t help but respond to. The best way to feel comfortable with who you are, I’ve found, is to learn to not care what other people think about you. It may sound simple enough, but I think it’s incredibly hard to achieve.
My sister told me a great saying that I remind myself of whenever I catch myself trying to people-please, or worry about how I came across in a social situation: “The people who care don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t care.”
My understanding of this is that the people who already love you, accept you for your imperfections and don’t care about them. There are always going to be people out there who don’t love you for who you are but you don’t need to worry about them when you’ve already got people in your corner who will always have your back.
8) Find your passion
The final quality that I think people who are radiators have is passion. Passion for a hobby, or their work, or their family, or travelling. Maybe they just have a passion for life. Whatever it is, they have something (or many things) in life that they care about.
My dad, for instance, loves all things active from competing in triathlon events to surfing. My sister loves travelling and learning about new cultures and languages. My boyfriend is really passionate about the tea company he runs with his sister. All of them are definitely radiators!
– Tiger Lily –