Ingredients for Life

“Five years from now, you will pretty much be the same as you are today except for two things: the books you read and the people you get close to.” (Quote from the late motivational speaker, Charlie Tremendous Jones)

Fried doughnuts

I’m not sure how instrumental that quote was in developing my perspective about life.  But hearing quotes like that while growing up shaped my current love of reading and conversation.

I think it goes like this:

  • We become what we think about.
  • What we think about comes from our inputs.
  • Our inputs come through our senses – especially what we hear and what we watch.
  • We can choose what we hear and watch.

Hmmm . . .

So, if I’m understanding this correctly, the ingredients that form my thoughts are:

  • The conversations I have
  • The things I read
  • The things I watch

The logical conclusion?

If I want to be better than I am, I need to be choosy about those ingredients.

There are a lot of things trying to get my attention.  Advertisers yell at me from billboards when I’m driving.  They interrupt storylines of my favorite shows with commercials I didn’t request.  They talk to me through little screens at the gas pump, trying to convince me that I need their credit card.

Hundreds of thousands of new books are published every year.  My inbox is filled with requests from people who want something from me.  Flyers are tossed onto my doorstep, stuck under my windshield or handed to me in a crowd, trying to find creative ways to get me to look.

They’re not all bad.  In fact, there are great things to read, watch and observe.

But there are too many to choose from.  I simply can’t take them all in.

If I’m not intentional about those inputs, I’ll end up selecting the shiny ones.

And those ingredients will begin to shape my thinking – which will shape my life.

You can’t prepare a healthy snack if the only ingredients you have in your cupboards are sugar, butter and chocolate.  It might be a tasty snack, but not a healthy one.  I need different ingredients to get different results.

So, how do I sort through the inputs to make sure I get the best ones?

  1. I need to determine who I want to be.
  2. Then I need to determine what ingredients will get me there.
  3. Then I need to intentionally select the best ingredients.

Mound of butterHigh-quality ingredients produce high-quality results.

Good-ingredients produce good-quality results.

Low-quality ingredients produce low-quality results.

It doesn’t happen any other way.


If I want a high-quality life, I need to be more choosy about my choosing.

You, too?


  • My favorite line “If I’m not intentional about those inputs, I’ll end up selecting the shiny ones.” Good reminder to be choosy about our ingredients!

    • Thanks, Jenn – Seems like we’re always attracted to the shiny things in life, right?