Monday, November 11, 2013
Choose your friends wisely. Didn't your folks ever tell you that? Well, there's a reason this is such a prevalent saying. It's important!
The people we surround ourselves with can have a tremendous impact on our decisions, our attitudes and even our achievements in life. I began to realize this a few years ago. I had always known that negative people bring you down, positive people lift you up, yada, yada, yada. But I never really knew the tremendous difference I would realize once I made a conscious decision to surround myself with like-minded individuals. Here is a quote that might make you smile with delight or cringe with angst:
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Think about it. Are you smiling? Is that good news? If you have people in your life that are admirable in your eyes. That embody the kind of attitudes, achievements and life that you respect, you're in great shape. To be an average of those five people is a wonderful thing. But if you're not smiling… you may want to do a bit of house-cleaning where the "circle of friends" is concerned.
Now before we say "Take a Hike" to our immediate family, in-laws or certain co-workers, consider that this is an AVERAGE. Different people serve different purposes in our lives. We can't choose some of our family, neighbors or coworkers. To that end, we must just classify those folks in the role they serve and keep in mind that we might not want to discuss topics with them that would lead to negative results. That said, we DO have complete choice in who our friends are. We can choose them wisely because our friends with whom we spend significant time are usually a choice. Again, you are an AVERAGE of the folks you spend time with. Some are by choice, some are not. So be sure the ones you can choose are of the highest caliber to raise that average of what you'd like to be. I have a few good girlfriends who wake up an hour early just to walk a few blocks with me. It isn't much of a calorie burn but what we get from this 45 minutes of chatting and laughing is worth more for my health than any gym could offer. I have a few others that I don't get to see very often but our uplifting texts, emails and Facebook check-ins are more than worth the price of my expensive smart phone.
I know what some of you are saying: But what if I don't have many like-minded individuals in my community. But you do! Some of the most positive people in my life, some of my mentors even, are in my virtual world. Our communities have expanded beyond the physical realm. We are a global, virtual society now and there are more positive, like-minded individuals out there than you can imagine. If you happen to be a gun enthusiast, and you are reading this on the Firearms Insider web page, you're part of a like-minded community already. How involved you are with other folks in this community, how much time you spend 'with them' is entirely up to you. I say this with absolute confidence because this is the community that has played a big part of my journey to a positive healthy life. My little corner of FRN is the Fat2Fit HQ podcast. Many of us are firearms friendly and health-concious or at least health-curious. The popularity of the site is largely due to the fact that we are not experts and we don't pretend to be. We are actually asking our listening community to help us keep up motivation and momentum through several mediums which I'll list below. We have folks from the most avid health nuts to the folks who are off the wagon more than on and everyone in between. Sure, we bring on experts a few times a month so that we can learn from their research and experience. But the most important thing that many of us have realized is that the key to reaching our short term or long term goals has more to do with the support we get from each other than anything. For me, it is about motivation, not perfection. It is about making small changes that I can live with and maintain an enjoyable lifestyle. Well, positive reinforcement from my physical friends and my virtual friends makes that road so much more doable. Not just doable, it's fun.
This principle doesn't only apply to health goals. We know that we can be strong advocates for change if we are in a group and organized. The passion of an individual can be a powerful thing. But the passion of a like-minded group is exponentially more powerful. What are your strong beliefs? Where are the communities you can plug into to help further your cause? They are just a google search away.
This isn't to say that we don't have real life groups to reinforce our values. Many cities have groups that are welcoming wether you want to connect with other stay-at-home moms or learn Spanish in a free, conversational dinner setting. These "meet ups" have gained popularity because they leverage the best of the virtual world and your physical world. To find out if there are meet ups in your area, visit www.meetup. com and you will see that there might be lots of like-minded, real world, folks around you who also want to connect in groups. If there isn't one that suits your interests, the site lets you create one.
But again, if all else fails, there are usually a virtual communities out there to bring you the right types of dialogue and influences that you are seeking. I'd invite you to join me in one of my favorite virtual hangouts:
If you own a Fitbit: http://www.fitbit.com/group/22BHX3
Now if you're still with me perhaps you want to take a minute to reflect on your own circle of influences. The ones you can't change- just take all the good you can from them and compartmentalize the rest of their views and input in an imaginary file you can label "Agree to Disagree." The ones you can choose, evaluate what they are bringing to your life. And then ask yourself the very, very important question: Have I chosen wisely?