Creatures of Habit

Tis the season to pretend we want to change something!

I find that I would change more things for the better in my life if I actually wanted to. It sounds funny to say out loud because what normally comes out is “I don’t understand why ____ never changes?” And “If only ____ would ____ then my life would get better!”

New Years resolutions aren’t even funny any more when you’re out of your thirties. I’ve come to a conclusion that I can’t just make up my mind and change some things like when I was younger. I have a relatively strong mind and maybe others would consider me a change agent, but in my own life I’m quite used to how I think, and if I would like different results than I currently have, I’ll need more than mental assent and emotional strength to get it.

If you’re twenty you’ll disagree because you’re invincible and sadly no one will make you President, but you might find this to be true as you get older.

Maybe society’s message of “Everyone is a superstar!” is a bit detrimental from a young age because it can be individualistic, if good for one’s self esteem. Once it crosses over into the “You can do ANYTHING!” we tend to look past the You Can DO to the Anything and try to skip the steps in between.

Now I’m constantly telling my kids they can do anything, but I don’t really mean ANYTHING anything. What we’re trying to say is they can accomplish GREAT things. Not everything single great thing should be accomplished by every single person, and if you’re great at one skill, you’ll likely be weak in its opposite and that’s ok until you try to meet in the mediocre middle.

Example: you might have an obsessively focused and brilliant child who is going to do something amazing, just make sure his older brother helps him cross the street while he’s busy thinkin, he might not be the best at seeing what’s going on around him.

There’s something a man named Paul wrote in the New Testament that I think applies to our most successful New Years Resolutions. He says that we’re significant because of what we’re a part of. Today I think we are prone to “You are significant because of Me” and not the other way around because we don’t like to feel weak.

I’m all for celebrating individual accomplishments through vision and discipline, but I think there’s a secret that most of us don’t really understand:

Success often comes after you surround yourself with a certain type of people.

Think about it. It’s easier to exercise when you’re in that environment with those types of people. It’s easier to be a great parent when you stop hanging around with parents that only make you feel better about yourself, but aren’t raising children successfully. If we would get the discipline of proper friendship right, we could set about to change anything.

It’s important to help people who aren’t doing well, but if our inner circle of people were honest, challenging, and had the results we wanted, we could absolutely help more people in the long run.

But we’re Creatures of Habit.

If I hang around unspiritual people I’ll be one, whether or not I really want that.
If I hang around complainers I’ll start doing what they admire, and that’s complain.
If I hang around people who don’t care, I’ll end up caring slightly more than they do, but it won’t be that much.

Here’s one that really matters and I would love to leave you with it today.

Hang around people who dream of something better for those around them. Listen to them talk. Watch their eyes tear up or light up with emotion. Let them light a fire in you. Get upset with something, stay upset, and do something about it.

But the only way to change is to get uncomfortable and hang out with uncomfortable people…

Until discomfort becomes the new comfort.

Then anything can happen…



(Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson)

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