The Average of five

 
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By Nathan Kesterson

24 February 2017

 
 

We’ve all heard it: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Or, like grandma used to say, “birds of a feather flock together.”

And the research appears to support it.

A 20-year happiness study by Harvard psychologists, found that your happiness is significantly impacted by the happiness levels of the people near and dear to you.  According to the data, if a friend down the street from you saw an increase in happiness, you became 25% more likely to see an increase, too.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when a friend became obese it increased an individual’s chances of becoming obese by 57 percent.

Fortunately, the same effect seemed to occur for weight loss.

Powerful stuff.

So what’s the conclusion?

Obviously, to surround yourself with people who inspire you, who enrich your life, who motivate you, who add joy and fulfillment to your days. They can help empower and elevate you.

And I agree.

But this tale has two lessons embedded within it.

The first: the people you associate with most will have a powerful influence on you, so audit your inner circle and choose wisely.

Second, since you’re the part of many people’s 5, you’re exerting a powerful influence on those around you.

The question becomes – what direction are you influencing them?

The “average of 5” rule not only calls for us to deliberately choose who we spend time with, but encourages us to become more, to inspire those around us, and to lead through example.

We can apply both facets of the “average of 5” to many different areas of our lives.

Want to be healthier?

  1. Hang around healthy people who will affect your habits.
  2. Start being one of those healthy people and impacting those around you.

Want to be happier?

  1. Spend some more time around your optimistic, grateful friends.
  2. Start practicing gratitude or mindfulness and propel your friends and family.

Want your kids to be freaking awesome (and who doesn’t)?

  1. Interact with other great parents.
  2. Be the walking, breathing, living example of awesome for your kids – because my guess is that you’re one of their five. (smiley face)

Keep the “Average of 5” rule front of mind.

It is a powerful reminder of the influence others can have on us and the dramatic effect we have on others.