How Your Friends Impact Your Life

What would you say if I told you that your friends, your friend’s friends and your friend’s friend’s friends could impact how healthy you are?  What about how successful you are?  What about how happy you are?

Sounds ridiculous right?  How could your friend’s friend’s friends negatively impact your life?  Someone you don’t even know could right now be negatively impacting how successful or healthy or happy you are?  Yeah, that does sound foolish.

Well, it may not be so ridiculous after all.  Dr. Nicholas Christakis has been studying health and social networks for years.  Through his research he has discovered that if your friends are, for instance, overweight you are 45% more likely to be overweight.  And if your friend’s friends are overweight you are 25% more likely to be overweight.  And lastly, if your friend’s friend’s friends are overweight you are still 10% more likely to be overweight.  It is not until you are four degrees separated in your social network that the people in your social network no longer have a direct effect on you.  That is a pretty profound piece of information.  One that you should consider not just in passing.

What you should be doing is evaluating your social network.  How does it look?  How many of your friends are healthy, successful and happy?  How about your friend’s friends?  How about your friend’s friend’s friends?  I’ve talked about it before in previous posts about how the 5 people you spend the most time with will have the largest impact on your life.  That probably still holds true but now you have to look a little further when choosing what social networks to belong to.  Or, more importantly, who you let into your social network.

Recognize that not only do these people have this effect on you but you also have this effect on them.  This does not mean that you can blame any misfortune you have on your friends or others in your social network.  What this does mean is that you have a responsibility to yourself and to those in your social network to be the best you can be, so not only do you have a better life but those who are closest to you also reap those benefits.  Ultimately, you will all prosper together.

Dr. Christakis brings up an interesting difference between American and European ways of thinking.  When this study first came out headlines in American papers read something to the effect of, “Are you packing it on?  Blame your fat friends!” whereas the headlines in Europe read, “Are your friends gaining weight?  Perhaps you are to blame!”

Pretty interesting difference in thought process.  I think its really a two way street and both statements have valid arguments.  But do you really want to be one of those people who blames their misfortunes on others?  If you do, stop it.  Don’t adopt the American thought process.  Adopt the European thought process.  Be responsible.  Make sure you are doing your best.  But don’t feel bad that you also expect the best from your friends.  Don’t be afraid to take steps to cut away the fat from your social network.  After all, it could make the difference in your level of success, health and happiness.

If you’re interested in watching the full video it is below and will take an investment of 18 minutes of your time.

Happy Thanksgiving!


4 comments so far

  1. […] Wednesdays with Chad How Your Friends Impact Your Life […]

  2. […] Wednesdays with Chad How Your Friends Impact Your Life […]

  3. chad on

    hahaha… well we can still be friends, but you just need to clean up your act! don’t force me to cut away the fat! lol 🙂

  4. Katie on

    Does this mean we are no longer going to be friends? I know I eat bread at night but I didn’t realize it would be the end.

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