A Contagion Of Thoughts

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If your close friend divorces, your own risk of divorce increases by 75%. If your best friend is obese, your chances of gaining weight goes up by 45%. If your proximal people smoke, your probability of smoking spikes by 61%! Our peer group directly impacts our success and well-being. When you sit at the table with winners, the quality of the conversation is different.

I recently took a trip with some incredible ladies, touted as the ‘next generation’ of women leaders in the state. We were immersed in discussions of fundamentally changing businesses, upending markets, impacting the community and leading with mindfulness.

I returned with multiple epiphanies and renewed excitement to revamp business verticals.

What an energy boost! And all it took was a short, deliberate getaway with people of a different wavelength. We’ve kept in touch after that, and we always feel re-invigorated after connecting with each other.

The result: spiked profits, more confidence, heightened creativity and a better support system. Above all— a big shift in thinking – a game-raiser! 


This is a common-sense conclusion. But it is so much more PROFOUND than we ever imagined! Just take a look at these studies.

The Framingham Heart Study, one of the most large-scale and comprehensive researches ever, analysed enormous data to find out the effects of family and friends on our health. They found that if a close friend of yours becomes obese, you yourself are 45 % more likely to gain weight over the next two to four years. 

They also found something similar with smoking rates. If your friend smokes, you are 61% more likely to be a smoker yourself. 

Similarly, joyful friends make your life happier— no surprise there. But here’s the best one: researchers from Harvard, Brown University and University of California - found that you’re 75% more likely to undergo divorce if a close friend/family member has divorced. And if an acquaintance you come in contact with every now and then is divorced, your odds of divorcing increases by 33%! If your friends think it’s OK to cheat, so do you. Studies have found that even suicides are contagious.

Bit of a shocker, isn’t it? But it can be rationally explained. We have similar thought-patterns and behaviours as our friends. We often watch the same TV shows, share interests and beliefs, even subconsciously speak like and dress like each other! We change ourselves to meet the level of the people around us. Neuroscience reveals that we all possess ‘Mirror Neurons’ that make us mimic the people around us, so much that we unconsciously even copy the body-language of people we are talking to!

Jim Rohn gave us the law of averages: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”


Why do we find it so hard to make the changes we KNOW we need to make? Why is it so difficult to eat healthier, quit smoking, shed negative thinking, start working out, engage in more kindness or take more calculated risks in business? We KNOW life will get better with these changes. But why do we resist? The NO.1 reason is our surroundings – the people we spend time with, the videos and books we consume, the conversations we keep having, environmental triggers which generate our habits...

So put yourself under the microscope. Be cognizant of whom you are letting into your mind. Do your peers improve your life, or pull you down?

This doesn’t mean we let go of our friends and family when they are undergoing a dark phase in life. We need to stay by them and support them. But we need to put in special efforts to ensure that it is US who is influencing THEM, and not the other way around. We need to bring some sunshine into THEIR lives, instead of letting THEIR darkness engulf US. And we also need to have other friends and activities to FUEL us, keep us buoyant.

We can’t pour from an empty cup. We need to step back from negativity, re-energize ourselves every day and then come back to serve. Gravitate to people who are positive and productive. Because:


Be mindful. 

Tags assigned to this article:
thoughts thinking Mindfulness


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