Show Me Your Friends and I'll Show You Your Future

I have a close friend who is about 10 years older than I am.  I’ll use the name Jim to protect his privacy.  Jim has had a struggle most of his married life.  One business failure after another, having to move about every other year as well as dealing with parents and sibling deaths and personal failing health.

Jim has had a very tough life and as a result, he’s struggled with his attitude.  You could always count on Jim to have a bad attitude about something.  Granted, he had plenty going on in his life that would put just about anyone in a bad mood, nevertheless, Jim had developed it into a real art.

Now I’ve always prided myself in being a very positive person.  I laugh a lot and make plenty of jokes and people often ask me wondering how I can always be so happy.  If someone asks me how I’m doing, my response is always “Great!”  I’ve always felt it was a true gift from God that I was blessed with a strong positive attitude.

Whenever I was with Jim, I would make a conscious effort to encourage him to be more positive – primarily through my example rather than preaching to him.  I hoped that if I continued to show Jim how to be positive regardless of any external influences or conditions, his life and attitude would improve.

I believe I made some small measure of progress with Jim but it seemed as if his bad attitude was so deeply seeded that my efforts simply weren’t sufficient to make any meaningful difference.  I believe the primary reason for this was his desire.  I don’t believe Jim really had a desire to change.  He had become comfortable with his poor attitude and simply didn’t have any real motivation to modify it.

As a result, I found myself starting to avoid regular association with Jim.  It was simply wearing me out, constantly trying to help Jim with his attitude.  If someone doesn’t want to change, you’re just wasting your time and energy trying to force them to do so.

I had a discussion about a similar subject with my grandson a couple of weeks ago.  An issue came up regarding a friend of his who had started doing things that had the potential of creating real problems.  This friend was making choices that could lead to decisions that would negatively impact his future and the consequences of his actions could be severe.

The natural tendency, due to their friendship, was to continue hanging out with him and trying to be a good example and positively influence him.  Unfortunately, that is seldom how the scenario plays out.  Once again, it’s all a factor of the desire one has.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of how such a relationship usually plays out.  Let’s assume there are two individuals, Kelley and Sammy.  They are close friends and have grown up playing and spending a lot of time together.  In Kelley’s teen years, Kelley begins to make decisions that lead down a path of disobedience and experimentation that could have life-long consequences.  Breaking the law becomes an exciting adventure and lying to parents is a regular occurrence.

Sammy sees what is happening and knows Kelley’s decisions will lead to pain and regret so Sammy decides to continue spending time with Kelley in an attempt to sway Kelley back to the right path through Sammy’s good example.  So how does this usually play out?  Does Kelley forsake the bad behavior as a result of Sammy’s good example or does Sammy eventually join  and follow Kelley’s bad example?

The unfortunate facts show that it is far more likely for Sammy to eventually follow Kelley’s bad example than for Kelley to follow Sammy’s good example.  So why is this the case?

First, if Kelley does not have a desire to change, there will be an ongoing and increasing frequency of making bad decisions.  As Kelley and Sammy spend time together, Sammy will be under constant pressure to join Kelley in a variety of bad decisions.  In an attempt to persuade Kelley to make better choices, Sammy will have to constantly battle with Kelley in a friendly way.

Sooner or later, Sammy will begin to tire of the ongoing battles and will often unwittingly begin to give in.  Initially it will be with just small things but over time, accepting and embracing bad behavior will become more comfortable for Sammy until both Kelley and Sammy are making similar bad choices.

So what’s the solution?  A phrase comes to mind, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”  In other words, one must make the conscious decision to choose the type of friends that will inspire, uplift and motivate one to become better.  It’s like learning to be a good tennis player.  If you want to become a better player, you must play those that are better than you.  You will never become a better player by always playing those who are worse than you.

Spending less time with previous good friends is not an easy decision.  I so enjoyed my friendship with Jim but had to make the hard decision to distance myself from the negativism that can poison one’s attitude.

So what does all this have to do with preparedness?  There are many out there who think preppers and crazy fanatics and that it’s a foolish waste of time and money to prepared with food storage and emergency preparedness items.  If you are convinced that being prepared for difficult times ahead is the right thing for you and your family, you will need to distance yourself from the “nay sayers”.

Align yourself with like-minded individuals who will encourage you and support your efforts to become better prepared.  There are far too many negative people in the world and luckily, in most cases we have the freedom to spend time with them or not.  Don’t let the negative ones destroy your positive attitude because you felt an obligation to try and convert them.  They need to come to the decision to prepare on their own.

Meanwhile, continue to be a good example with a positive attitude and those who are ready will be attracted to your light and want to follow your lead.