My dear mother, bless her, used to love to quote proverbs and sayings at us, especially when we were being naughty. Like "People who sit on fences get their backsides blown off!" Whenever she mentioned a proverb, watch out. That was her warning shot and the only warning we'd get before the belt made it's appearance!
One of her favourite sayings, with eyes fixed menacingly on us, especially when we looked too happy misbehaving, was (in Jamaican patois) "Whah sweet nanny goat ah go run 'im belly". Translated: Whatever is making you so happy will soon make you sick! We would have been foolish to ignore her!
There is much advice she passed down for which I am grateful. But the one that still guides my life is this one:
"Show me your company and I'll tell you who you are."
That is such a powerful simple statement about our choice of lifestyle because whomever we choose to associate with is telling us the kind of person we are, and how we see ourselves.
For example, we can't be friends with criminals, homophobic, sexist or racist people and then protest how we are not like that! We have to bear some of those values too in order to be comfortable in the presence of such people. Otherwise we would find their values/actions incompatible with who we are and wish to be.
Thanks to that saying, I keep well away from negative people who would drag me down with their gloominess and negativity, and from others who would seek to impose their own conformist values on me. I always hear her voice whenever I have doubts about a friendship, or am about to make new contacts. I remind myself that whomever I associate with says an awful lot about me as a person, how I see my world and my aspirations.