Have you ever stopped to consider the impact a group, whether it’s just a few people or a large number, can have on the individuals within it? Peer pressure is just one example of the influence groups have on behavior. We’ve all witnessed it up close—my apologies to the owner of the house I helped cover in toilet paper back in high school—but the influence of others on our lives extends far beyond just temporary actions.
There is actually a science to group behavior that’s studied by social psychologists. It reveals predictable patterns in the way other people influence our attitudes and actions. Certain types of personalities are more easily influenced, but we’re all affected to various degrees.
Research shows that over time we become the average of the five people we associate with the most. We begin to model those around us as a natural result of group dynamics, and the more time spent together the greater the impact on our lives. While we often see the end result of its negative impact in news stories and on our criminal justice system, the same power can be harnassed for good.
Who you spend your time and energy with is crucial to your life’s trajectory. If your desire is to be successful, surround yourself with hardworking, determined people. If you want to grow more Christlike, spend time with passionate people of faith. If you value financial stability, seek out fiscally responsible people. If you want to live a life of positivity, avoid negative, fault-finding complainers.
This doesn’t mean you should never associate with your existing friends or family group if they don’t match your goals and values. What it means is that you intentionally walk through life with people who are already headed in the direction you want to go.
When it comes to daily life you should love everyone, but choose your inner circle with great care. They should inspire the best version of yourself, not the basest.
Be blessed my friend,
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
Proverbs 13:20 NLT