It has been said that you are the sum total of the 5 people you spend the most time with. While there is much truth in that, turns out that the effect is much greater and wider: you are also impacted by their friends. According to one study (Link to study in Note 1 below), if your friend smokes, you are 61% more likely to smoke AND if a friend of your friend smokes you are 29% more likely to smoke, 11% more likely if it is a friend of a friend of a friend.

The same social influence impact shows up re weight: if a friend is obese, your chances of gaining weight over the next 2 to 4 years increases by 45%, friend of a friend obese, 20% (Note 2). Not surprisingly, having happy friends makes you happier (Note 3).

While these studies are observational in nature (humans make lousy lab rats) and correlation is not causation, I know from personal observation that the attitudes, coping styles, and behaviors of my closest associates significantly sway mine; hence I pick them with care and with an eye to the future.

Closing Quotes:

“Attitudes are contagious; is yours worth catching?” – Proverb

“Every action we take impacts the lives of others around us.” – Arthur Carmazzi 

“Don’t ever underestimate the impact that you may have on someone else’s life.” – Folk Wisdom

“Recognize that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make a positive impact on others.” – Shep Hyken 

Note #1: The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network

Note #2: The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.; James H. Fowler, Ph.D.

Note #3: Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier