October 27, 2012

Friends with Benefits

“You are the average of the five people you spend time with the most.” – Jim Rohn

I read this in this beautifully written blog that a friend turned me on to, and since then haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

But Jim Rohn's proclamation makes me wonder if those are the people that we're actually the closest to or not, especially given the 9-plus hours a day most of us spend at work where we have little control over who we're spending that time with. I suppose it makes the statement that much more important in a way, because if the sum of who we are is partially the result of people we are not electively choosing to be spending time with, we have little control over who we are. And I disagree with that.  I believe it's ultimately up to us who we choose to be.  To that end, I choose to interpret the statement (because I can do that, right?) as to who we elect to spend time with, which can include certain work relationships, particularly if those happen to be people you choose to include in your circle of five.

Having always been pretty selective about my friends myself, Rohn's statement also makes me feel a little more validated, especially since for years I’ve always felt a little guilty for only wanting friendships that were of the cerebral and soulful sort.  What can I say?  I am a sucker for that intimate connection.

I count my very closest friends on one hand – that is not many – and that is intentional. I want to be the best friend/person I can be to these people, to have the time and energy to nourish these deep relationships, because you need to consistently put forth that level of effort in order to maintain that sort of depth with someone.  I don't deny that my desire for these kinds of relationships is also self-serving because these are the kinds of relationships I prefer to have, that I need to have.  I would take one or two people who I had a deep connection with over numerous surfacy connections any day, but that is just me.  (Although I will say that I'm learning that surfacy relationships can be valuable in their own right, which is something I realize more and more as I navigate through the acquaintance pool in my community.)

Regardless, relationships with our partners, friends, and family members all take time and effort for them to be rewarding and satisfying, because they help shape who we are in a very fundamental way. On a personal level, because all my closest confidantes generally contain values similar to me, it makes sense that I am the sum of the five people I spend the most time with.   There's a reason that birds of a feather flock together, right? 

I believe we are most well-suited by those who bring out the best in us, those who help us become  the best possible versions of ourselves and to unleash our greatest potential, which is why it's not a bad thing to be picky!  The ideal kind of people for us are not necessarily universally amazing; they’re the kind of people who are right for you, to help you attain your life’s purpose and to be the best you you can be. Life’s too long and too difficult to go about it alone – we need others to make it through -- and to help our light shine a little brighter.

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