I have a dear friend who is the living definition of a free spirit. Her heart is filled with wanderlust, fierce creativity, and openness to all modes of connection – platonic, romantic, and everything in between. She dreams of traveling to Myanmar, dates men she meets rollerblading down the street, and hosts concerts in her living room.
When my friend began a career in a hospital, she was surrounded by other folks who – at the ripe, old ages of 24 and 25 – were getting married, having children, buying houses, and settling down. Though my friend knew that she had ample time to find these staples of a traditional life, her workplace community spawned in her a sense of anxiety. She felt incomplete – like she should have found a husband, bought a house, and had kids yesterday. The more she was exposed to her colleagues’ standards, the more those standards became her own.
The same phenomenon takes place throughout our lives. When you spend enough time with a close friend, you begin to adopt her idiosyncrasies. You begin to “speak the same language” – and that sameness applies not only to your words, but your values and perceptions of reality. Parents encourage their children to befriend “good influences.” Teachers caution students not to succumb to the power of peer pressure.
Our communities influence our values and behavior dramatically. If your New Year’s Resolution is to change an old habit, adopt a new mindset, or embrace a new lifestyle, make it stick by surrounding yourself with people who already live that way.Read More