The quality of your life will, to a large extent, be decided by whom you elect to spend your time with. Supportive, caring, and funny are great attributes in friends and lovers. Unceasingly negative cynics who chip away at your self-esteem? We need to jettison those people as far and fast as we can.
The problem is, how do we identify these people who add nothing positive — or not enough positive — to our lives?
Few of us keep relationships with obvious assholes. There are always a few painfully terrible family members we have to put up with at weddings and funerals, but normally we choose whom we spend time with. And we’ve chosen these people because, at some point, our interactions with them felt good.
How, then, do we identify the deadweight? The people who are really dragging us down and who have a high probability of continuing to do so in the future? We can apply the general thinking tool called Bayesian Updating.
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