Early on in my recovery from homelessness and iv drug addiction, I began listening to as many messages of positivity, motivation, and inspiration as I could find. I wouldn’t only listen to recovery stories and messages anymore because I wanted to learn how all the successful people, outside of addiction and recovery, do what they do. I was listening to one of the greatest motivational speakers to ever live, Jim Rohn, while I was sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight. As I sipped my coffee and took notes in my journal, I heard him say something that changed my life forever, “You are the sum average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

He went on to discuss the way the people around you think and feel is more contagious than a cold. He also said the income of the people you surround yourself with becomes the level of income you are able to produce. His voice drowned out into the background of my mind as I put my pen to my chin in thought, ‘If this is true, I should be able to average out the people I spend the most time with to see if it is me…’ 

I paused the video and wrote down the names of the five people I spoke to and spent time with the most. Next to each name, I wrote the three thoughts or conversations I most often had with them, the three feelings I associated with them having most of the time, and the income I believed each of them made per month. I then wrote a list of the fifteen thoughts and conversations, a list of the fifteen feelings, and a list of the incomes. I circled the top three feelings from the list that showed up the most and realized that was almost always how I felt. I circled the three thoughts and conversations that showed up the most and realized that was almost always how I thought. And I added the five incomes together, divided the sum by five, and was blown away to see almost my exact income as the average of those five. 

Ok, I can see that at least two people in my life are causing me to have sad thoughts and world views, feel depressed and anxious a lot of the time, and are not motivated to be working on themselves or bettering their careers, now what? 

I love my friends and want to help them, but I want to feel happy, joyous, and free in my life, and to grow in my career constantly. All I did differently was instead of calling these two friends to hang out when I was bored or just wanted to do something, I would reach out to people I knew felt and thought the way I wanted to and asked how their day was going. I changed my habit of calling these two, to calling and networking with people that had what I wanted (sort of like how they tell us to look for a sponsor). If those two called me, which happened to be rare, I would see them if I was available. But as a few months went on, we no longer thought and felt the same way. They eventually stopped calling because they enjoyed conversations about gossip, bad days at work, etc., and I was coming to the conversation with great new connections I was making and things I was learning. 

There are three types of people we always need in our top five in order to level up in our life in recovery: people we aspire to be like, friends we think feel and act like, and people we can help that look up to us. If we continue learning from the people we aspire towards, communicating and grow with our friends, and teaching everything we learn to someone who needs us, life will continue to grow in our recovery, and we will always progress in life as someone who lives recovered.