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Week 1: Day 7 Health Strategy: Friends
Health Strategy: Friends
January 8, 2006


Want a guaranteed way to increase your chances of doing what will bring you joy and and of avoiding what will bring pain?

The answer is to control your environment. There’s a reason why Christ prayed to "lead us not into temptation." A clean environment makes it much easier to act in a healthy way. And what could be more important in your environment than the people who accompany you?

As with other lessons learned as a child, I sometimes thing I'm "too grown up" to pay attention to this one. After all, I think for myself now that I'm an adults. It can’t really make any difference with whom I associate; can it?

’ve noticed that my friends put me in places. My obese friend asks me to dinner. My physically fit friends ask me to go hiking or to go jogging on the beach. My unhealthy friend wants to go drinking. My healthy friend needs to make a run to the health- food store or to meet me at the gym.

Conversations differ as well. My unhealthy friend wants me to try a new recipe for candy. My healthy friend just found a new protein bar or a new exercise that works well. My unhealthy friend talks about the latest T.V. show. My healthy friend tells me about the last triathalon and where he placed in the field.

I’m not making this up. This is what I’m exposed to when I go around various friends. I feel left out because I don’t have a television when I’m around one friend. I feel left out because I’m not swimming laps or haven't explored a particular waterfall in the Georgia mountains when I’m around another.

Like most that’s good and orderly, good friends must be sought and cherished while those of less healthy influence will be easy to find. Everything tends to go toward a state of more disorder (including my collection of friends). Abraham Lincoln said that periodically one should treat his friends like a wardrobe–you go through the collection and discard everything that no longer fits.

I’m not saying that you dump a friend just because they do a behavior that’s unhealthy (unless it’s drug or alcohol abuse in which case you may need to leave immediately), we all have unhealthy behaviors. I am saying that you should look around for people who live life as healthy as you want to live and cultivate that friendship. Part of the purpose of the gym, the church, the school is to help you find good friends with good habits. The place doesn't define a person (not everyone at the YMCA is healthy), but a place at least defines a common purpose and sometimes turns up a really fine new friend.

Remember, don’t create a vacuum. Cultivate the good influence and it will help you counteract the less helpful influence. Good friends accept each other for what they are. I have a very unhealthy friend whom I cherish. But, I bind my healthy friends to me with hoops of steel. Those healthy friends (physical and spiritual) help keep me strong. Then with the strength I gain from good influence I can hopefully be a good influence.

Today starts another week so we’re swapping over to Matthew. We’re also swapping to the next virtue (Silence). One of the things I look for in a friend is if they waste my time with idle chatter. I’m all for a good joke. But, Leonardo da Vinci had an observation: make sure the speech you make is better than the silence you break.

__Read Matthew: Chapters 1 - 4_____

Walk 3 miles: actual miles walked _____

Eat 5 fruits or vegetables_____

Virtue: Silence-speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

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