Refuse to be Passive

Autonomy– A joke?

In Life in General on October 21, 2010 at 9:47 am

I was reading an article the other day that commented that while we may like to think of ourselves as autonomous, the people we surround ourselves with create a big impact on the decisions we make. We tend to make decisions that will be supported or encouraged by the people we’re around. I suppose I always knew autonomy was more a concept than a reality, but the article got me thinking about my life and how this is lived out.

Lately, I’ve been back on my health kick again. I’ve been doing pretty well over the past month, getting back to swimming, and this morning even hitting up the gym with my sister. My sister is my first point of healthy contact, maybe not for food, but for fitness. She came to me the other day and asked me to start swimming and working out with her to keep her accountable. I agreed. As such the past couple days I’ve been up at 6am to go to the gym or pool. Right there, an influence.

I went to a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago for a movie night. Movie night’s tend to be trouble on the eating front, so I brought along some pears to make spiced baked pears. My friend and I also agreed to make popcorn. Once the popcorn was made, he asked me if we should put on butter. I requested none for me, so he didn’t put any on at all.  Another influence. He ate healthier because he was around someone who ate healthy.

And then there’s my healthy living group that I meet up with once a week. We weigh in, talk about what went well last week as well as what we’ll change for next week. We also have a topic we discuss, like strategies for the grocery store. Influences right there. I know that at the end of each week, someone is going to ask me how I did, and I really don’t want to be embarrassed in front of an entire group. As such, it effects the choices I make throughout the week.

On the negative side, I also have friends who eat whatever comes across their line of sight.  They seem to have a significant amount in common with Cookie Monster.  Not only do they eat whatever they want with no regard to healthy benefits, or lack there of, they also try to foist the food on me.  Brownies vs. veggies. Today it’s not even a question. A couple months ago it wasn’t a question either. The difference is that my answers today and a couple months ago would have been different.

In a realm not directly related to food and health, I think of environmentalism. I live in a tiny apartment– like 330 sq ft. I love it. I drive my car, but will often opt to walk to work, the library, the grocery store, and even occasionally downtown. I make a point of turning out lights when I’m leaving a room. I recycle. What makes the difference? I’ve lived around people who value these things for a long time, and they’ve rubbed off on me. I have other friends who couldn’t care less how much they drive, how much gas/electricity/water they use, or how far their food comes from. I don’t hang out with these people very often. They’re definitely the minority, and as such, their lifestyles don’t effect me in the same way.

So, do people influence how I live my life? Absolutely. Is anyone truly autonomous? Doubtful.

Take a couple minutes to look at your own life. Who influences you? How do they influence you? Is that who you want to be? If not,  what steps can you take to get there? Is it time to have a talk with that negative friend or the food pusher? Is it time to sign up for a yoga class, or start playing a sport? Ultimately, you control your environment and who you hang around with. This week, focus on making good choices.

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