This past week I listened to a seminar by Tony Robbins. Two steps of a 5-step plan for successful living that he outlined were to choose good role models, and create clear goals, for the type of life you want to live. He also said that proximity is power, the more you spend time with those people, the more likely you are to take on those characteristics and begin to live a similar life. We can’t always be in physical proximity with the people we want to learn from and emulate but there are certainly virtual ways to listen to or even study them. You’ve probably heard the saying that you become like the five people that you spend the most amount of your time with. I think it is true. So, we have to choose those five people carefully!
Saturday, January 28, was the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas. One of the quotes attributed to St. Thomas is “the things that we love tell us what we are“. I invite us to take a moment this weekend and think about those things. To ask the question where we might be focusing our time and attention. Also, to consider who we are allowing to have such a dramatic impact on the outcome of our lives. I understand that we can’t eliminate some people from our life because of jobs or family situations. But we can control how we let those people impact us. We can also make sure that we are finding ways to be with the people that lift us up, to balance out the situations that we can’t walk away from. We have to live the right story. It can be painful to change our existing story if it isn’t creating the life we want. Here is the interesting part, we will hang on to that pain until we value something else more. Of course it is easier to stay the same, but is that the life we want?
The Gospel for this Fourth Week in Ordinary Time is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those mourning, and those who are persecuted, etc. What in this world makes me want those qualities over the opposite of each of those “blessings”? Nothing. That’s right, nothing in this world. It isn’t easy to choose these qualities over the ones that the world constantly presents to us as desirable. We each have to search our hearts to see if we make choices that will enhance the opportunity of eternal life over temporal satisfaction now.
In saying that, I don’t think that the choice means that we can’t or won’t enjoy the blessings of this life while we are living it, graces like joy, happiness, peace or security. It just means that we don’t cling to those things. We don’t seek them as an answer to the question of finding meaning in life. It means keeping a watch on the importance we attach to them.
Let’s circle back to role models and the 5 people we spend most of our time with. Perhaps the choice is to spend time with people that have a proper balance and attitude about the things that matter. We watch them, and we choose, to make choices that feed our mind, body and spirit over things that feel good for a moment. This week let’s take a loving and non-judgmental glance at the people and choices we spend our time with. Let’s reflect on them in light of St. Thomas Aquinas’ quote – the things we love tell us what we are.
Image by Chang Duong on Unsplash