Smell A Bad Influence? Just Follow Your Nose!

The nose knows it first. But before you realize it, you’re already in it.

The nose is a sensitive organ. Among all five senses, the nose is the first to detect what’s around us when we wake up in the morning. So acute and complex, in times like the cold and flu season, we’re prone to catch the tiny bad viruses that are spreading around. Once we breathe them in, they can stir up our immune system, cause an infection to our body and make us sick for days. When it comes to protecting physical health, we know we should keep our hands clean and avoid coming into contact with those harmful viruses. But when it comes to safeguarding emotional well-being, what should we put on a watch list?

Speaking of smell, I’m not particularly a big fan for strong perfume, no matter how expensive or how exclusive the brand is. When it gets too much, it becomes like a pest, a nuisance. Other people may have a different take on that but that’s OK.

This morning, just like any other mornings, when I got out of the door, I smelled the same type of perfume in the air. It was very much in-your-face. So overpowering that it lingered around the complex and even all the way down to the street level, roughly some 150 meters away from my place. There was really no one to be seen at that time except a few cars driving passed. Thankfully, the scent (or smell I’d rather call it) started to subside before I headed to the main road where the bus stop was. Again, I was amazed (and slightly annoyed) by just how far the fragrance could travel. As to who might’ve been the carrier (or offender), I’m afraid it’ll probably be a mystery forever.

Imagine, a bad influence is like bad smell in disguise. To elaborate, I’ll reference a former colleague of mine at Fairfax Media, Sydney – Rose. She’s one of most outspoken people, a don’t-talk-shit-to-me friend I’ve come across. We gelled very well on many levels, both professionally and personally. She often shared some important lessons in life with me during our chitchat moments at work. One that stood out most and something she said repeatedly was: Ted, negative people are a bad influence, they’re like bed smell, you’d better run away from them, or they’ll drag you down and make you part of their tribe, well before you have time to escape. Point-blank, plain and simple. Well said and point taken!

How far can a bad influence go? Just the other night, I was watching a presentation on YouTube, The Surprising Power of Small Habits given by James Clear. He’s the author of a best-selling book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. It was quite refreshing to hear many valid points he raised and one that struck me more than anything else was when he said: “the people that we surround ourselves with dictate our habits and behaviour even if they’re not physically by us.” Isn’t that scary? Time for a reality check.

Whether it’s like attracts like or opposites attract, whichever the law of attraction you buy into, somewhere along the line, we all can be influenced by each other in either a positive or negative way. Here’s a typical case of a bad influence. I used to know someone who swore a lot when driving, especially in a lousy traffic condition. At first, I thought he was a bit over-reacting. Funnily enough, over time I found myself doing the same thing as he did. I’d be in my driver’s seat showing the bird, shouting four letter words, yelling at those mad drivers on the road. It was contagious indeed. Mind you, that was a long time ago.

So, you think you smell a bad influence somewhere? Or maybe you’ve lived through it or got used to it? Don’t sit there feeling suffocated. You can’t literally hold your breath forever. What can you do about it? The answer is probably under your nose already! Treat it like bad smell! The power is in your legs! Exercise the power of walking away. It doesn’t matter if you were there first. Your welfare is more important. And, if you’re convinced, one thing to remember is, when you’re walking away from a bad influence, you’re in fact walking towards a good influence on the other end…

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