Last April I started to feel really disconnected from my healthy lifestyle. You know those days (or even weeks) when everything just feels off and you can’t pinpoint why? It was weird. I wasn’t looking forward to my beloved morning workouts — they felt more like a chore than something that would make me feel good. I couldn’t find motivation to cook — grabbing something quick, even if I had to sacrifice nutrition, seemed easier. And I slowly started to break away from my morning routine, which if you know me, you know my morning routine is key to a successful day. Everything was off. While I tried to convince myself I was just tired from a super busy SXSW, which was immediately followed by an epic bike ride on the Oregon Coast, I knew better. I knew it was much deeper than that. And I knew I needed to get to the bottom of it.

If you read my column, you probably remember me talking about the yoga + meditation retreat I went to a few months ago. If not, I’ll refresh you. This past May, lululemon gathered 50 of us thought-provoking individuals for 5 days of meditation, yoga and self-development in the Texas Hill Country. I didn’t know a soul, only dabbled in meditation and wasn’t a yogi, so as you can probably imagine, a lot of eye-opening and step-outside-of-your-comfort-zone moments happened for me. I learned to meditate on Day 1, and discovered how to be content while unsatisfied (called Santosha) on Day 3. But it was the last day that really provided a sense of clarity on my month-long funk.

As we gathered for one final breakfast and said our goodbye’s, a wave of sadness came over me. Ever get the post-event blues after wedding weekends or vacations? Well, it was just like that. I had just experienced something so special and life-changing and I was so bummed it was over. Over those 5 days I met 49 absolutely brilliant and ambitious new friends. They were some of the most positive and creative people. Some were trailblazers in their industry — CEO’s, authors, athletes. Some (most) are working daily to make the world a better place and others are just getting started. Above all, every single one of them put health at the forefront of their lives in the most pleasant and non-preachy way. Their actions and conversations motivated me. I felt like I was at home with like-minded friends with a lot in common. I felt happy to be there, comfortable around everyone, and excited to start practicing everything I learned.

Then it clicked. I was in my element because I was surrounded by people who share the same values. The kind who push me to be better, but accept me for where I am right now. The kind who value thoughtful conversations and listen to all opinions. The kind who purposely choose a healthy lifestyle because it makes them feel great. And the kind who are eager to collaborate, idea-share, and talk about successes and failures, knowing we can all learn something from one another.

It’s not that I don’t have friends like this. But the retreat made me realize that I simply wasn’t spending as much time with them and in turn, felt off. I’m sure you have all heard the saying “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” and “you’re only as good as the company you keep” and for me, those statements have never been more true. Once I discovered the root of my funk, you can probably guess the very first thing I did post-retreat. Aside from diving straight into yoga, I reconnected with a few important friends whom I admire and always make me feel like I can conquer the world. Since then, I’ve made a very concentrated effort to surround myself with those who are a positive force and as a result, there was an immediate shift in my mood and mindset.

While I don’t believe we can solely rely on others for our happiness, I do think it’s important that we surround ourselves with those who positively influence our personal success. And if you think about it, it’s not rocket science.

I plan on purchasing a home soon and have been focused on tightening up my budget, so I’ve been surrounding myself with friends who are financially responsible and familiar with the real estate market. I’ve also got an extreme case of wanderlust and am daydreaming about a bike adventure and vacation in the mountains, so have been spending more time with those with a similar passion for adventure who inspire me to plan big. In turn, I’m training a bit more and even more focused on good nutrition to fuel my rides. So naturally, I’m spending less time with those who are flippant with their money or prefer evening cocktails vs. evening bike rides.

All of this said, I am acutely aware that at some point this may all change. I may prefer evening cocktails instead of evening rides. And I may decide that buying a home isn’t in my cards and my financial goals might change. I’m very mindful of what I need right now and realize that I may be on the other side of the equation some day — where perhaps a friend will disconnect from our relationship and focus their time elsewhere. And that’s ok. What a relief to know that we’re all human and value and need different things at different times.

Being on this journey of Living Kindly has allowed me to dive deep and understand what I need personally to be the best version of myself. Sometimes it’s taking a solo vacation to disconnect. Other times it’s listening to an inspiring podcast. Or decluttering my space to have a clear mind. And right now, it’s making sure I’m surrounding myself with a tribe of positive and creative boss babes and dudes.

Shine Theory, am I right?

photo 1 by Garance Doré; photo 2 by Nico Alary for Kinfolk; photo 3 from Becky Bunz; photo 4 by Kuba Dubrowsi for WWD

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Comments (11)
  1. 1
    Emma October 12, 2016 at 6:49 am

    I feel that in my 30’s I have found my BEST friends. Those especially who are in the same stage of life that I am in. I have nightmares of my 20’s trying to navigate my early 20’s desperately trying to find a place to “fit”. Thanks so much for the lovely words!


  2. 2
    Blush & Pearls October 12, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I’ve always had a very small group of close friends that I knew I could trust. I was never interested in keeping ties to those that I knew would be fleeting acquaintances and my close friends now are still the same ones I’ve had for over 10 years. Sharing the same values is a must!

    Angela / Blush & Pearls

  3. 3
    Julie Lauren October 12, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I absolutely love this article. Couldn’t agree more. It’s so important to surround yourself with those who lift you up and bring out the very best in you. Loved reading this. xo Julie

  4. 4
    Cristina Cleveland October 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    This was such a beautiful and thoughtful read, thank you Kelly!

  5. 5
    Kate October 12, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Kelly, you make some good points, but I am turned off by the notion of gathering friends who are like me so that I can move closer to my goals. Isn’t it more interesting to make friends with all kinds of people, some of whom are not able to do anything for you except be themselves in all their imperfection? If you limit yourselves to friends who fit the narrow guidelines you propose, you will miss out on some lovely people — some of them might be teens or older people or a neighbor you never noticed.

    • Laura October 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      I think that this brings up a good point. I do think that different people look for different things in their friends. I find meeting different types of people really invigorating, while my husband does not feel that way and is happiest surrounded by people who challenge him, have big goals, and have similar values. I do like that, of course, but I enjoy spending time with people who are different as they, too, make me grow. Ultimately though we are limited by time and we don’t always get to do everything that we want to do and spend time with everyone who we would like to. But I think that you stay in any relationship because you are getting something valuable out of it whether you have common ground and values or not.

      • Kelly Krause October 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        Laura, yes, your last sentence is spot on. We (I specifically) stay in any relationship because you’e getting something valuable out of it. Sometimes it’s super tangible — like advice on buying a home, other times I learn patience from my friends by watching them parent. I purposely choose to surround myself with those who make me better. Thanks for the comment!

    • Kelly Krause October 13, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Kate, fair comment for sure. I have a wonderful and diverse group of friends from all ages, locations of the country, world, professions, religions, etc. I learn from all of them — and this is my exact point here. I’m surrounding myself with those who I can learn from and who make me a better person.

  6. 6
    Maria Fernanda October 12, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Kelly, this was just lovely! I’ve been feeling the same way and I am trying to make it a point to spend time with those that lift + empower. It’s so true that depending on our season of life is the type of friendships we seek.
    Looking forward to more columns like this one.

  7. 7
    Leather Bag October 17, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Great Article…

  8. 8
    Yelle October 29, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    While I have heard that “you are the company you keep” phrase, I have not heard the more concrete phrase “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Now that I think about it, I can definitely see that. At a point in my life, I was gladly spending a lot of time with a boss. But that boss didn’t treat people right sometimes. I slowly developed that attitude, and I tried really hard to get rid of it, but it was hard, because she was the one that I spend most of my days with. Now, I want to be a lot more aware of that. I really appreciated this, thank you!



Kelly Krause