Drinking the Kool Aid

I know the reference to “drinking kool aid” is rather morbid, having it’s origin with the Reverend Jim Jones Jonestown massacre, for those of you who didn’t know, but, in today’s vernacular, it basically means, “who do you follow?” So, whose kool aid do you drink?

We all are followers, like it or not. Copycats. We all have someone or some group of people we identify with and seek to emulate, whether we are fully aware of it or not. The “Raider Nation” is one of my least favorite examples. Nascar fans, a more tolerable example. And there are those folks who take on their favorite comedian’s or favorite star’s characteristics. Many years ago, when Jeff Foxworthy and his “you might be a redneck” routine was popular, my brother in law adopted the accent, the inflection, the tone of voice that Jeff used, and he never looked back. He still sounds like Jeff Foxworthy even if Jeff Foxworthy doesn’t sound so much like Jeff Foxworthy anymore. I had a little girl in my Girl Scout troop many years ago who loved the comedian Dane Cook and for a full year, never spoke an original word, everything she said was straight from Dane Cook’s material. I remember in fifth or sixth grade, there was a “popular” girl I wished I were a little more like. Never mind that she was short, round and blond and I was not tall, but definitely taller, skinny and had very dark hair. I invited her to my slumber party for my birthday, and she came. I tried so hard to be like her, I even copied some of her mannerisms, including covering my mouth with my hand when I laughed. This isn’t really particularly cool, or attractive, but for some reason, I adopted that habit because she did it. In a photograph my mom took at my birthday party, there I was in the picture with popular girl, and we both have our hands covering our smiles. I was sort of embarrassed, I guess I didn’t really realize how I was copycatting her. Long story short, I never became as popular as she was, and truthfully, I am okay with that. And, to this day, every now and then, I catch myself putting my hand in front of my mouth when I laugh. Now I just want to be Jennifer Aniston.

Who do you follow? Knowing we are all copycats and followers, we can actually work this to our advantage as we make an effort to evolve into the happy, productive, well-balanced people we seek to become. Who are your role models in your journey? Authors? Media personalities? Me? What characteristics or behaviors do your role models possess that you think would be beneficial to you in your journey? Their focus, their work ethic, their knowledge, their clarity? Are you trying to emulate those qualities?

Having positive role models as we begin to re-assess the direction our lives are going can be extremely helpful. Personally, I have gained a lot of knowledge and inspiration from Jillian Michaels, an unintended target. I just happened to pick up one of her books at Target. I read it cover to cover and it changed my life. Her books and workout videos were the catalyst for me to finally lose those unwanted pounds and unhealthy habits I’d been living with for twenty some years. In a time when I was seeking to redefine myself, heck, to actually get to know myself, I looked to Jillian’s mass media personality to provide me the resources and guidance I needed to find my way. The self confidence I gained from finally breaking the cycle of being overweight and unhealthy unleashed a power in me that has driven me to all kinds of new possibilities, achievements and attitudes.

If you haven’t identified any positive role models, you have the unique opportunity to “shop” for the flavor of kool aid you’d like! If you are new on your journey towards your personal evolution, grab a pencil and a piece of paper and write down three things you’d like to improve in your life. Google those three things, or go to Amazon and look up books on those three things. See if you can spot names that may be “authorities” or role models on the topics on your list. Read excerpts or view videos of them and see if their message resounds, if it inspires you. I’m not saying you need to run to the salon and have your hair cut like theirs, or stalk them, or anything like that! Just get to know their philosophy, their message, their methods and explore whether you think they may work for you. This in itself can be a process, but finding a guiding light, a flavor of kool aid that you really like, is a great place to find the starting point for your journey.

Having a positive role model, famous or not, can influence our health, our productivity, our self-esteem, the shape, direction and quality of our lives. I have a few flavors of kool aid I like right now, and I’m stirring them all together to make the best punch! We all need a little more punch in our lives! How about you?

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