Birds of a feather flock together

Many people interested in “metaphysics”, “spirituality”, “personal development”, the “Secret”, the “Law of Attraction” and even the “Science of Getting Rich” seem to be very uncomfortable with anyone not of “like mind” – especially around so-called “negative” people (whether they really are or not).

Like attracts like (as far as resonance and entrainment go) – but opposites also attract, bind, and can add value and desirability. Most people know that similar poles on magnets actually repel rather than attract and that it’s usually what is different rather than what is the same that makes two or more of anything “better” together (than apart).

REAL birds do NOT only flock, fly, feed, or even always breed, with those of the same feather. They are often surprisingly willing to associate with other species. All of us are unique. Some seem more so than others – but that may be an illusion. Either way, everything in nature thrives upon (and often survives because of rather than in spite of) diversity. In business, sports, love, and just about anything else you can think of, it is usually someone (with something) different from, rather than the same as us, that is “best” (for us – especially together) in more ways than one. There would be no orchestras if everyone played the same instrument – and few children if everyone was the same sex. A “like-minded” person has little to offer anyone who already has a mind, ideas, and perspective of their own. We can gain a LOT by welcoming and appreciating what others may have to offer that is different from what we do.

I really like the words “compliment” and “complement” since they have to do with fitting together and acknowledging what we like. We may be “whole” as we are, but others who are DIFFERENT can “complete” us. By adding what we do not have ourselves, we each become “more”/”better” (together).

It’s also important to focus less on what we may get from others and consider what we might be able to give, contribute, and add to them. Not everything that is good for us is always comfortable – especially at first. Perhaps those who feel uncomfortable around “negative” people could benefit from asking themselves why – and what part(s) of themselves are “threatened” (or unacknowledged).

I think we ALL need to look for more ways to compliment and complement those around us. It is long past time to understand BOTH that we almost always have more in common than whatever is perceived as different AND that our differences are often our greatest strengths and/or potential resources and assets – if we allow them to be.

That which is different is often perceived as strange, queer, and odd. What is unique is also special, sacred, holy, and highly valuable – when seen and/or used that way.

A TRULY “positive”, “tolerant”, “spiritual”, or “enlightened” person would NOT be affected, diminished, or “drained” by “negative” person. Their energy and enthusiasm would more likely influence any “negative” people than the other way around. Even if it doesn’t bring it “up”, it would at least “cancel” it out.

Avoiding “negative” people does several “negative” things. First, it reveals an “insecurity” and affirms the belief that “negativity” is more “powerful” than “positivity”. It also deprives both people from exposure to a way of thinking different from their own.

Those who are “negative” may have something valuable to contribute, share, and/or learn from. They may not know any other way to be, think, behave, or express themselves – especially if others who are different avoid them.

“Pessimists”, “realists”, and seemingly “negative” people sometimes see, know, understand, and/or can deal with things that (more) “positive” and/or “optimistic” people (often) cannot.

Given a choice, MOST people usually prefer to be around cheerful, upbeat, enthusiastic, “positive” optimists – who encourage and/or inspire “hope”, no matter how “delusional” it may be. This makes sense. People usually prefer to feel good rather than bad. Without (some “glimmer”, “sign”, or “illusion” of) “hope”, many people probably would not go on at all.

But the “aversion” to “negativity” often ignores that there are other very useful “thinking hats” that people can/should wear – such as:

Yellow for when a sunny optimistic cheerleader is needed.

Red for when a passionate or other emotional response would be better.

Green for “brainstorming” and/or generating creative possibilities.

for details, record keeping and accountability. 

Blue for clarity, focus, supervision/management, and action leading to “accomplishment”/getting things done.

And, yes, black, for possible consequences, ramifications and worst-case scenarios. 

“Negative” thinking is more often meant to “protect” than undermine you and can sometimes save you time, money, and even your life.


Choose whichever hat(s) you like while I share a (bird) story:

    A man placed an eagle’s egg in the nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched and grew up surrounded by domestic chickens and behaved pretty much as they did: clucking, only “flying” a few feet at a time, and scratching the ground, looking for food. One day he looked up and saw a large powerful bird gliding effortlessly in the sky. He asked the others, “What’s that?” They replied, “That’s an eagle, the king of birds, who belongs to the sky. But we are chickens and we belong to the ground.” Believing this was so about himself, as well, the eaglet lived his entire life in the barnyard and died never knowing that he, too, could fly higher than those around him could imagine.


There are many possible “conclusions” from this story. The most important is the power of what we believe to be so. Our self-image and what we tell ourselves determines just about everything we do or will be in life. It does not matter if it is “true” or not, just that we believe it, and accept it as our “reality”. Many “positive” people may assume that the chickens in the story are “negative”, but I assert that many “positive” people may even more “chicken” by avoiding those they think different, challenging, or “negative” (and are thus just as “guilty” for not seeing, encouraging, acknowledging or allowing the true “greatness” that others may possess). As in another (better-known) story, sometimes an “ugly duckling” is, in fact, a “swan”.

To really “grow”, often “requires” being uncomfortable, to leave what is familiar and expand our experience and, literally, become someone and/or something (“more”) that we are not (already).

Humans tend to ONLY see that which they are familiar, recognize, and by implication, ARE. When people see others as “negative”, they are most likely seeing a part of themselves that they do not like and want to keep hidden (from themselves even more than from others).

Projection is a form of (self-)perception. When people finally REALLY look, find, see and think “positively”, the “negativity” in others (and themselves) will not matter. It does not need to disappear.

Stars are easier to see at night in a dark sky. Even a small candle often casts enough light to brighten a large room enough to see what is important. And in the same way as one lit candle can light another without any “loss” of energy or flame by sharing, so too, can people share their time, presence, attention, “souls” and “true essence” or anything else that increases the amount of “light” in the world, without “endangering” how “positive” they are (or aren’t).

Want (yourself or others to) be “positive”? Then “lighten up”!

“Positive” and “negative” are relative terms. If we don’t want someone thinking WE are “negative” (or “draining”) in comparison, we probably ALL should be more accepting and less judgmental of others as well.  They are usually doing the best they can. If that’s not “good enough”, then HELP them, by being WITH them, rather than running, hiding or pushing them AWAY in “fear”. “Inclusivity” is often actually better than “exclusivity”. Together, we often learn and grow more/faster – from what others have (to offer) that we (may not even know we) lack/need.

That’s my perspective. What’s yours?

© 2009 – 2015, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.

Oren Pardes

Oren Pardes has written 73 post in this blog.

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1 response to Birds of a feather flock together

  1. George Shears

    This article is truly a breath of fresh air. One of my most beloved professors in grad school, argued similarly for what he liked to call “the dance of diversity.” With the toxic proliferation of divisiveness throughout the world these days, I believe that we desperately need to see and emphasize our commonality with all of the other “birds.”

    Thanks much for this great contribution!

    .-= George´s last blog ..Mindfulness–An Ancient Antidote for All Addictions =-.

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