Me time

Brent Moore
Brent Moore

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I’ve never bought this, but I’ve heard it several times in recent weeks. Friends claim it’s helped them move on from debilitating relationships and bring inspiring, supportive people into their lives.

I understand the idea. Surrounding yourself with positive, successful people can help bring good things into your life. But this maxim ignores the value, the necessity, of time spent alone.

Think of yourself as a friend. Do you see yourself enough? Are you highly judgmental or indulgent and enabling? Are you being a good friend to yourself?

Taking time to analyze your own thoughts, independent of the influence of those five people, is essential to building confidence and decision-making skills. You’ll soon be fueled by your own ambitions and morals, not those of the five people standing next to you.

It doesn’t take much time, but what’s important is how that time is spent, because not all time is valued equally. Quality time is exponentially more beneficial than time spent frivolously.

Two hours of playing video games with a friend is relaxing, but those two hours are likely less beneficial than speaking with that friend for half an hour about relationships, goals and accomplishments.

The same goes for time spent with yourself.

Quality time occurs when you’re mentally and emotionally present. But you don’t need to meditate two hours a day to be inspired by and in touch with yourself.

Treat yourself like you would a good friend: make time to be alone and be present for the entire visit.

There are techniques that can facilitate and maximize your solitary time — things like keeping a journal or putting your thoughts on a tape recorder. Occupying a clean, quiet place without phone or Internet access limits distraction.

Be open with your friends. For example, I’ll tell them I can’t hang out tomorrow night because I’m going to sit by the water. The ones who value their own relationships with themselves will understand. Hell, they’ll encourage you.

Solitary time functions much like time spent with those five important people. It’s quality, not quantity, that’s most effective.

It’s time spent in your own head, away from the influences — positive or negative — of others. It encourages reflection and enables independent thinking.

Without it, we’re at the ideological mercy of the five people we spend the most time with.

Brent is the Journal’s Assistant Sports Editor. He’s a fifth-year English major.

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