Birds of a Feather Flock Together. For years I have been telling my children this saying, the reason is that I believe it to be true. Here is how influence shapes habits!
If you are wanting to be a good basketball player, it would make little sense to hang out with the volleyball team. If you are hanging around people who drink alcohol, you at the very least will give it a try. If all you listen to is a certain network of news, you will pick up thoughts that come from their opinion makers.
Many people start off the year with New Years Resolutions, I truly do not believe by and large that they work. The reason is you often do not use the psychology or resources available to you to make the change.
For the past month, I have been studying a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. In this book it discusses the tiny changes you can make to make to get fantastic results.
In my reading today, he wrote about your friends, family and authority and how influence shapes habits you develop.
First, is how those close to you help shape your actions. If you grow up in a house that values studying and learning, you stand a strong chance to be a great student. If you are a family of outdoorsmen than you will most likely continue that tradition. The same goes for beliefs, political affiliation, what you choose to eat, on and on.
Second, and this was my big takeaway is how groups can influence you. A study was done in the 1950’s by psychologist Solomon Asch. In this study he presented an image of a line on one picture and three lines of varying lengths on the other one of which matched the length of the line on the first sheet. What he did was asked a group of people to come in and match the first line with the line on the other sheet that matched its length.
100% of the people matched it correctly. However, in the second phase he hired actors to lie about which line matched. So, one after the other the people lied when it came to the subjects turn to pick the line, they would smile, pause, get nervous, but 75% of the time they would pick the knowingly wrong line as the people before them did. Amazing.
This clearly illustrates group think and how who you listen too influences what you believe and how you act. So the question is are you thinking for yourself or are you allowing others to influence you? The important thing here is that it is impossible to not be influenced by who you are listening to, knowing that you can use this to surround yourself with those who are supporting the new habits or beliefs that you want to have.
You can also use it to question, why you believe what you do. Is it what you really think based on evidence? Is my belief as a result of my own analysis or am I just repeating what I have heard? How have groups, news agencies, advertisers, etc. positioned themselves to influence my behavior and thoughts?
Third is how the powerful influence. People who have the mantle of parent, boss, political leader, top entertainers influence just because we love to follow them. We were raised to respect authority and often we are not aware of the influence on our thoughts and habits that have been ingrained in us culturally.
The questions you ask yourself are key:
a. Do I believe this because of how I was raised?
b. Am I living in an echo chamber that does not expose me to new ideas?
c. How has authority shaped my habits and views?
By asking these questions, you can examine your behavior based on your influencers and make sure that if you continue to believe or act as you do, it is because you have examined your life and confirmed these beliefs or actions are right for you.