You have probably heard the quote by Jim Rohn, that “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.”
You may have also heard the saying, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
No matter how you say it, you are influenced by the people that you spend time with, for good, or for bad. So, based on that theory, if you want to be more successful you should choose who you spend your time with very carefully. People who are in line with what you want for your own life (preferably people better than you so it raises your average!).
There have been numerous studies that have in fact proven that theory to be true…until these two researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler examined the data from the Framingham Heart Study, one of the largest and longest running health studies ever and put that theory into question. What they realized was that the study covered not only heart health (the intention of the study) but all sorts of medical conditions, and the participants were asked a multitude of questions, including ones about family members and friends. So they started to analyze the data to see what the effects of family members and friends had on obesity.
According to their results, if a friend of yours becomes obese, you yourself are 45% more likely to gain weight over the next two to four years. Verifying the 5 people theory by Jim Rohn. But it didn’t stop there.
ore surprisingly, they found that if a friend of your friend becomes obese, your likelihood of gaining weight increased by about 20% – even if you don’t know that friend of a friend!! The effect continues one more person out. If a friend of a friend of a friend becomes obese, you are still 10% more likely than random chance to gain weight as well.
Those 5 people you surround yourself with might cause you to gain weight, or get lazy, but so do their friends, and the friends of their friends.
While the researchers looked for an explanation, the most likely one always came back to norms. If your friend is obese, that changes your perception of what is an acceptable body (and portion) size and your behaviour changes accordingly.
ps. The study didn’t stop at obesity btw, the same correlations were made with smoking and happiness.
REMEMBER: You are not the average of the 5 people you spend your time with. It’s way bigger than that. You’re the average of all the people who surround you. So take a look around and make sure you’re in the right surroundings.