Making Changes or Making Excuses

The Five.  That’s how many people we’ve been told have the most influence over our life and every few months when I’m doing something mindless, I consider the impact my closest five have on my life and edit around the edges of how we all fit together in life.  I’ve excised the drama addicts, the people who always seem to need one lily pad of problems after another in order to navigate any still water of life. It makes no sense for me to spend time with people who don’t exercise or eat healthy and have a 20 page list for why they do neither and only one excuse for why they are more unhealthy each year. Yet, in this age of electronic communication, texting, social media and 90 ways to stay in touch with people not directly in front of us, which five are having the most influence?

They came to my house in East Hampton recently. Two live in San Francisco and two in Brooklyn; travel schedules and personal demands finally lined up for a three day weekend in November. We needed time for us to all just be together, exercise, drink wine, talk as late as we wanted, go out to eat and cook together in the kitchen as we enjoyed all being together again.  We were last all together when we worked in an office together and we were no longer working together. We were also in different stages of life. I’m the eldest by a decade and a half, married 12 years, and building a business. One was born in Beirut, three of us in California, one engaged, one single, three of us married, one of us not able to make it because of the extremely valid reason that an apartment in San Francisco was finally ready for the move in and so she called us twice. Some of us raised in conservative families, some not, all of us more liberal than our families of origin. Some of us have mothers who wanted us to be pleasing and pleasant more than powerful or full of presence. A parent in recovery, a spouse in recovery. Two marathoners who wanted to run just after coffee, two who prefer to sleep late.

I don’t know that I call them my five on any given day but I am happy that they are a huge influence on me. My husband is certainly one of my five and I’ve a dear friend who always seems to make me want to be the best version of myself anyone could ever imagine. I’ve a friend I check in with daily and he lives in another state entirely and yet another friend I consider a brother, a handful of friends from college, two of whom I text several times a day.  Who were my influences? Am I happy with those influences? Am I influencing anyone positively or negatively?

Do we really need our collar bones to bow up over the chaotic person?  Do we need to give that much energy to the person who seems to have no real sense of herself, always shape shifting and following trends? What about the one who thinks our dedication to physical fitness is an obsession when anyone else in our life is just proud of how healthy we are and the goals we set?  Or the one who isn’t supportive or helpful of the idea or project into which you’ve invested money, time and energy? Who gets a voice in you head? Our head is a sacred space-this heavy thing our spine carries all day is how we see the world, hear the world, taste the world, it is the way in which the world INFILTRATES us and guarding it carefully is vital.

We update our hairstyle, our skin care regimen, our living room decor, why are we not updating our closest influences?

This time of year is a point of reflection. Who makes me better? Who is it I wish I were more like? Who impresses me? Am I someone others would want in their inner five?  I enjoy people with an interior life, a rich one…..people with ideas, notions, those who read and process, take in other points of view and are comfortable saying what they think.  I am not a fan of people who aren’t certain how the world perceives them, who take up so much space of nothingness and emptiness, who make noise. Am I being mindful that taking up space in life should matter and my mark should be imprinted in the grooves of those closest to me?

Habit number one in the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People is: Be Proactive.  We are a product of our decisions, not our circumstances.  Proactive people make changes, reactive people make excuses.

Take some time today to write down on paper, physically moving your hand across tree products and list your five. Who in your life or maybe even in the mirror is making excuses instead of changes?

Dorothy Johnson1 Comment