In my most recent post, I shared a story highlighting the importance of our peer group in defining what is “normal” to us. Click here if you missed it.
Today, I want to dive a bit deeper into WHY the people around us can so strongly influence our actions and the way we live our lives.
First, check out this video (below), which recreates and explains a famous behavioral science study on social conformity.
You can also find a short video about the original experiment here, which goes into more detail about the different ways in which this plays out.
I’ve written a lot in the past about the social circle you surround yourself with and the social norms of our society and how they are so important as to whether you live a healthy life or not.
The above video, showing the various types of conformity, tells us part of the reason WHY it can be so hard for us to keep maintaining lifestyle changes after the initial burst of motivation has left us.
You see, we have a human desire to be part of a group and to conform to others around us, even when we know it isn’t right.
If our lifestyle changes but our community doesn’t, then there will be a clash between the norms of our social group–our community–and our new healthy habits.
Over time, it’s going to be really hard to hang onto those healthy habits if they are at odds with the lifestyle habits of those in our social group.
Let me share an example with you. Maybe your friends drink a few glasses of wine on a regular basis and they seem just fine so you convince yourself that it is ok to do the same thing, because it doesn’t seem to be bothering them.
Maybe you know it isn’t the best for you and you want to say no, but you know that your friends are going to give you a hard time and make fun of you, so you conform to what they are doing.
The alternate scenario can also be true. Most of my close inner circle doesn’t drink any alcohol. If we all go out to eat and someone who would normally order a glass of wine or a beer sees us only ordering water, their tendency is to not order alcohol. Many times they will say, I don’t want to feel like the only one who needs to be drinking.
This is a simple example but could be carried over to any area of life. Emily, the TC Manager, shared how her co-workers at her last job would regularly get together for drinks after work. It was a crucial part of the team bonding at her old job and it was what most of her social circle did.
After joining the TC as a client, she started to expand her social circle and to find people who wanted to meet up for a run or a bike ride, instead of a drink.
Now that she works here, team bonding happens when Emily and many on our team get together for tough workouts, lol. And she joined a triathlon team, meeting more people whose lifestyle matched her own.
This is why the Transformation Center will continue to grow even though there are so many ways a person has to get in shape. In our daily lives, we have endless information and really great tracking software but until we change our environment and community, we will constantly be battling human nature.
Human nature almost always wins.
We strive to build that healthy, supportive environment and community here at the TC and in our programs. Like the study showed, even one person on your side can make a big difference on making the right or wrong choices so at the very least, find 1 person to be on your side who can support you.
So, I ask you… Does your peer circle motivate you to be healthier or sicker?
Think about that, then click here to visit the final installment in our Transform You 2020 series.