It’s related to the law of averages! Jim Rohn, motivational speaker, famously said, “We are the average of the five people that we spend the most time with.”
Think about your life.
The Law of Averages is the theory that “the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes.” While he was likely talking to salespeople, this holds true when it comes to our relationships and social connections.
Whether we like it or not, those people closest to us — at home, at work, at school, at play — affect our decisions, our way of viewing the world, our self-esteem, and even our health. They shape who we are to a great extent.
While it is ideal to surround yourself at every point in life with positive, health-conscious people, it is not always possible.
In my health coaching experience, people often say, “Type 2 Diabetes just runs in my family,” or “Everybody in my family has heart disease.” They say it with certainty like there is absolutely nothing they can do about the ailment and assume that genetics are the cause.
But the truth is that family relationships and social ties affect every area of life because of similar habits and routines. People who live together or hang out together just naturally tend to eat the same things and have the same level of activity or inactivity. You generally enjoy and care about the same things. You go to the same places; you eat the same foods.
You cannot be around people without picking up their habits. As a mother of two children who has been blessed via adoption, I’ve seen this in our family.
People are constantly telling me how much my daughter looks like me. It makes me feel so good! She has long, thick chocolate hair and perfectly arched eyebrows. I have short blond hair and flat, pale eyebrows.
In reality, this resemblance is the indirect effect of mannerisms and facial expressions of hers that are like mine. Called “attunement,” there is actually a scientific explanation for this. According to Julie Drew, co-founder of Heart of the Matter Seminars, a babies’ brain development is influenced when the parent makes appropriate facial expressions in response to a need or emotion. She learned from my facial expressions and responses what happy, surprised, sad, or scared looked like.
In the case of health and vitality, what your top five friends care about really matters for your health trajectory. Just as iron sharpens iron, growing evidence suggests that social networks can predict disease or lack of it.
For example, if someone significant in your life stops smoking, then your chances of continuing to smoke drop 67 percent. Research confirms what we all have personally experienced — happiness is contagious!
When you surround yourself with happy, optimistic people, your happiness quota increases! The influence of friends goes both ways.
When you spend a great deal of time with friends who are inactive and overweight, your chances of gaining weight increase from 57 to 171 percent increased risk. It doesn’t mean that you have to run away, but it is good to be aware of the influences on your health.
START SOMEWHERE today being aware of the health habits of your top five friends. Be the one that gently influences them toward increased joy and vitality. You can do it. I will help you.