I am sure you have heard the above quote in one form or another at some point. There are two reasons why that statement is accurate? The first is that Homo sapiens by way of evolution must live in groups and a particular type of neuron in your brain.
The Call of Nature
Nature and evolution have dictated to our species that we must live in groups to survive. You have to examine it from an anatomical perspective. Unlike other species, we don’t have much hair on our bodies to keep us warm. We walk on two legs which doesn’t allow us much speed compared to four-legged species. We are significantly weaker than all other primates. What does this mean? It means that we had to live in groups or tribes to survive. Since we had to live in groups, it would follow that our ancestors who were able to do that were able to pass along their genes. Although we currently dominate the planet and can speak, use language and smartphones, we must remember that we evolved from primitive species. Many of the areas in your brain are ancient technology. Which leads to the next reason that the statement that you are the average of the five people you hang around with is so accurate.
You Have Mirrors In Your Brain
Recently, it has been discovered that within your brain there are cells which act as mirrors. Thus these cells are referred to as mirror neurons. These neurons are powerful yet work subtly to influence your thoughts and behavior. Think of when you have been in a room with someone who yawns. Within seconds others in the room will begin yawning. Within the theater world, it is a well know phenomenon that if someone coughs there will sure to be others coughing within a few seconds. I witness this every time I attend the Opera. Once someone begins coughing it begins a chain reaction of coughs. It will eventually die down until another person coughs then the response begins again. An example of how strong these mirror neurons are is to look at the mother-child mirror neuron bond. It is so powerful that when a mother is holding her infant, their heart beats will become synchronized.
Now I understand why my mother was so concerned with who I was hanging around with when I was a teenager. However, that still applies in your adult life. You need to be aware of who you are closely associated with. You are influencing each other without out realizing it. If you are seeking a life with greater mindfulness and peace, you may need to distance yourself from those who are not. It does not mean that they are “bad” people, but they are at a different point in the journey.