I saw this blog post title today and thought, gee, that sounds like a decent, worthwhile read: “You Are The Average Of The 5 People You Hang Out With Most.” Since I am looking for new friends, and ways to be a better friend, it seemed a safe bet to give it a whirl. The guy refers to himself as a “success-oriented entrepreneur” and goes on to describe his hefty country-club membership dues (I used to work at one of the finest old-money country clubs in the region. I know the type well).

Why does “success” always have to mean “financial success?” (I have indeed read Rich Dad, Poor Dad– twice, thinking I had missed something important- but all I came away with was the self-knowledge that having to worry and think about that much money- and its possible loss should one become lax for even a moment-would drive me batshit insane.) And does financial success guarantee happiness? No. Research shows that a medium income ($50k a year or so- enough to not have to scrape by, counting every penny, and foregoing toilet paper) is the happiness point at which no more money makes a person any happier.

I don’t reject people who “drag me down,” either. I may spend less time with them than I would with a positive person, but I do not deny them. That is the precise attitude that led to white flight and the ensuing destruction of our American cities, that leads to the marginalization of persons with mental illness or physical disabilities. I have spent much time listening to people pour their hearts out- lending a listening ear, a kind heart. Did it drag me down? It made me a kinder person. It prevented suicide. It showed the love of Christ, in the truest sense possible- even coming, as it did, from an imperfect being.

Now I prefer to think of this concept in its inverse, as I am seeking (as I said) to expand my friendship circle, many good friends having moved away. I am trying to be the person with whom I would like to spend time- fun time, work time; I am trying to attract positive individuals by being positive. By offering something. By making my “self” something worthwhile that is of value. This puts the responsibility right where it belongs: on me.