The Five People

The Breakup

“I’m afraid I can’t see you anymore.”

“What?!  Why?”

“My guru said that I need to surround myself with five people who will help me towards my journey of (fill in blank – being fit/a more positive person/successful/enlightened/rich), and you just don’t fit the bill.

“That’s very hurtful.”

“Yes, it is, but please understand that I’m only just trying to find the best version of myself, and you’re an anchor that’s pulling me down.”

“Do you really think that’s how you find the best version of yourself?”

“That’s what my guru told me, and they are really (fill in the blank – fit/positive/successful/enlightened/rich) so they must know.”

“I can’t help but think that there’s more to it than that.”

“Nope, this is the way.  Goodbye, Mom.”

The Beef

My name is Jane, and I’m a self-help addict in any form…video, book, audio book, but particularly lately podcasts. Immersing myself in some else’s wisdom brings me so much joy, and there is such an abundance of *wisdom* out there. A day is incomplete without a good one liner to jot down in my notebook.

However, there is one popular piece of advice which I keep stumbling across and causes a visceral reaction like nails on a chalkboard for me.  If I hear it, I’m super quick to be flipping the pages or fast forwarding the podcast because I just have no patience for it, and the piece of advice is…Whatever your goal/intention, you need to find five people who can encourage you towards that goal. 

On the surface, a pretty harmless piece of advice and makes perfect sense too in many ways., right.  Let’s face it, how often do we sit down to brunch with our friends, and one makes a comment about how great someone’s skin looks followed by the question “What have you been doing to make your skin look so great?”  This great-looking skin friend enthusiastically launches into the newest craze of rubbing a homemade combination of applesauce and turmeric on their face. Next thing is you find yourself considering whether you need to adopt such a skin care regimen, and if you’re fortunate, you’ll stop after considering it, but the fact of the matter is you will think about it and may even do it.  Such is the power of enthusiastic information delivered about something you may feel lacking for yourself.

If you want a reason why this advice is dangerous, read the comments after such advice and see how the words are interpreted.  People are immediately asking for advice on how to give under-performing, couch-potato friends/family the boot and actively advertising for new “successful” friends. 

Loyalty, Smoyalty

What happened to loyalty?  What happened to unconditional love (with boundaries…always need those boundaries)?  What happened to accepting people where they are on their journey, faults and all?  What happened to valuing our fellow humans and the lessons they teach us about ourselves?

Dropped in the pursuit of “bettering ourselves” that’s where.

I would argue that this advice while well meaning needs an update.  After all what are our five friends for?  Advice, mentorship, accountability, encouragement and butt kicking. I would argue that in this day and age we can get all that without having to kick our friend to the curb.

The New Improved Advice

So instead of five people, I would argue for “five tools” to get us to our intention/goal.  Here is an example for someone who may be trying to get in shape.

Advice – Podcasts on motivation, health and fitness.

Mentorship – There are hundreds of gurus you can follow through YouTube or another platform.  Better yet, read others’ success stories and see how they got there and overcame hurdles.

Accountability – A dog.  Nothing keeps you accountable to that daily walk/run like your dog. Still struggling? Get two.

Encourager – Facebook groups dedicated to your specific goal.

Butt kicker – There are apps that can kick your butt, but I would argue that a dog is the best motivator.

The Power is In You

Yes, it great to have people instead of inanimate objects (I stand by the dog though), but if you find yourself mulling over who you need to drop from your life and blaming those in your life for holding you back, perhaps this would be the better, kinder option. 

Because “your better self” already exists, you just keep covering it over with crap.  Tapping into your power is up to you…no five friends are going to get you there, but your dog will do most of the heavy lifting. 

What are one of your five tools to keep you on track with your goals? This “addict” would love to know. =)

Note: The above does not apply to toxic or abusive relationships….remember boundaries!

Photo by Hannah Valentine on Unsplash

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Struggling in the mud trying to keep with my dogs who have navigated the rocky, muddy route with ease and are way ahead of me gives me pause to notice how an ordinary event can be infused with the extraordinary.   Nothing like walking through sticky, slippery mud to make you notice every step…every flipping, precarious step…on a beach littered with dead fish.

Simultaneously cursing my decision to choose this path and stopping to catch my breath, I find myself noticing the many ordinary, yet extraordinary, events taking place around me. These include:

The Mud of Contemplation
  • An 8-foot sturgeon breaching the river…Amazing!
  • Rocks littered with dead salmon, the end of a long journey from the river to the ocean and back again to spawn… Smelly and humbling.
  • A feathered plant I had never noticed before…Delightful curiosity.
  • My awesome new boots…Warm, comfy, dry.
  • Mist settling on the river…Mysterious.
  • Dogs that don’t listen at all running ahead of me with pure joy…Annoying and lovely.
  • How much more nimble a dog with bad hips is over the rocks versus a woman in her 40s…Sad.
Plant I had never noticed before…pretty isn’t it!

By being forced to pause and reflect, I had an opportunity to change my story from getting the dogs out for walk (to-do list item #5 checked) to one of appreciating events weaving to create a magical moment infused with gratitude, awe, humor and delight.

It’s a reminder to get stuck in the mud more often and see beyond the ordinary.  I’m never disappointed when I chose to employ it, and it’s a perspective that always adds quality and value to the moment.

So, on the note of honing my skills, I’m going clothes shopping with my family today, and watch out, I’m bringing extraordinary (if your immediate reaction was pity for my family, you are not alone).   Kind of curious what kind of extraordinary magic can go into a moment that involves convincing my youngest to try on pants, but I’m willing to go there.

Dogs having fun and thinking about rolling on dead fish