This is more critical than I anticipated before I started doing my research and it could be the reason why most people struggle to significantly change any aspect of their lives. Ever.
We are social beings. Highly social beings whose fundamental drive to interact with people is a critical part of their lives. Part of this social aspect is that we want to be able to talk about the things that we’re most interested in.
We love it.
And if we can’t talk freely and engagingly about what we’re doing, we are less likely to want to stay doing it. The same sort of zealous fervour people may find unappealing in evangelists and football fanatics is the same spark that just might enable you to stick at what you’re doing for long enough to make something happen. So, one of the things I cover in another article is ’how to talk to people so that they, too, get excited about what you’re doing’.
Before I do that however, I’m just going to digress for a moment on the importance of surrounding yourself with the right sort of people. There is a lot of research, and a great deal of common sense behind the belief in the power of association: Who you associate with says a lot about you.
A great way to test what people are like is to look at the quality of their friends. If you’ve got great friends, that a lot of other people also seem to like, there’s a good chance that you’re a great person too. If quite a few of your friends are a little bit odd, then there’s a good chance that you too might be just a little bit odd!
This power of association runs deep into the habits we adopt. It makes sense of course. If you want to successfully follow a particular way of life, you’ll have more luck if you are surrounding yourself with people who also follow that way of life.
Look around at your friends. Do they all eat healthily? If so, there’s a good chance that you can too.
Are they all slim? Likewise, it’ll be easier for you to succeed in a reasonable eating plan if they are.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t associate with people that aren’t already how you want to be in all areas of your life? Well, no, not at all.
However, I’m just saying that it’ll be easier for you to get healthy if you spend all your time with healthy people.
It’ll be easier to maintain a vegetarian diet if you hang around vegetarians all the time.
People are now calling this the power of your social network, but it’s really no more than what your mother worried about when she sent you off to school:
Her biggest fear wasn’t that you wouldn’t learn enough, that you wouldn’t get a good education or a good job. Her biggest fear in most cases was likely to have been this:
‘I hope they don’t fall in with the wrong crowd.’
And that’s the single biggest reason why a lot of people still spend a huge amount of money on private education.
If you send your kids to private schools, you have a better idea of who they’re hanging around with. (Incidentally, this is also the very same reason that some people cite for NOT sending their kids to private schools!)
So, here’s one thing you can do, from today, if you want a higher chance of success in any endeavour:
Surround yourself by people who already think it’s a good idea.
You do this by getting rid of your old friends and getting new friends. Not always easy, but do-able and certainly a lot of people end up doing this. They often have to learn the hard way.
They share their goals, their ambitions a few times with their closest friends and the reaction they get is so overwhelmingly negative that they lose heart and end up quitting their proposed course of action.
Now, this is not the time to go deep into the psychology of this – I’ll be addressing these issues in another work, but a good algorithm to use is this:
If your friends don’t make you feel good, they’re not your friends.
They might have been your friends at some point. When you were both quite different. Perhaps when you were in school, or at a mutually beneficial part of your lives. But the job of a friend is to make you feel good. That’s it. Sure, if you go to someone openly and ask them what they think, if you seek their counsel, then you should fully expect them to tell you something that you may not like. But that won’t make you feel bad. Because you asked for it. You sought it out. You went to them as an explorer of a subject and they told you what they thought. Criticism or condemnation received in this way will never make you feel bad.
You may decide to reject your friend’s advice, but you won’t feel bad about it. You will reason that they have their own perspective and you have yours. And you will make the decision whether to proceed with your exploration of a subject based on receiving the opinion of a valued friend.
However, if you are repeatedly being made to feel bad by the uninvited criticism and condemnation of friends, who are of course, ‘only doing it to protect you’ then don’t be afraid to stop hanging around with them. They can’t help you get where you want to go. Unless it’s to be more like them. (Which, in the end, is all anyone can truly help you with).
So, that’s number 3 in Tom’s Thoughts On Food. I hope you liked it. :)