Everyone well knows the saying “you are what you eat.” However, the same could be said for other things, such as “you are who you hang with” and “what you do defines who you are.” This is an idea that is often ignored. Think about it … what types of people are you attracted to? Why do you befriend certain people over others? Quite often, the answer will be something along the lines of “I can relate to them”, or “we like the same things.”
Take a close look at the people you affiliate with. This will tell you a lot about yourself. Look for patterns amongst all the people you know. There is usually at least one or two common threads that exist between all of your friends and acquaintances, no matter how different they may be from one another. Even in the most diverse group of people, there should be one common trait. Some of the traits to look for are:
- sense of humor (little to no humor, light humor, sick & twisted)
- common interest (music, sci-fi, career field, hobbies)
- thought pattern (logical, scientific, philosophical, social)
- perception type (creative, analytical, abstract)
- mannerism (aggressive, passive, easy-going, serious)
- attitude (cynical, optimistic, carefree, industrious)
Once you have established a pattern, you are ready for the tricky part. This involves as asking yourself some questions you might not really want to ask:
- Is this pattern a positive influence or a negative influence on me?
- What kinds of liabilities or limitations am I imposing on myself by associating with this pattern?
- Am I re-affirming a potentially damaging habit within myself?
If you find yourself unhappy with the way you think or feel about life (particularly your way of handling it), or find that your habitual reactions to problems is more damaging than reparative, one of the first steps you need to take in changing yourself is to change your environment. Find those elements that reinforce the patterns you wish to break and remove them. This, of course, would also include changing your social patterns. Incidentally, you could easily use your social interactions to improve your life as well. You can learn to acquire more resourceful traits and ways of thinking and reacting by associating with those who conduct themselves in a constructive way.
One common tip you will find in a lot of books on how to become successful in business is to associate with highly successful people. Same rule applies here. Interact with people who hold the same qualities that you wish to acquire. There is a lot that can be learned from just being around people. You can learn how things can be and how things shouldn’t be. Be mindful of what you subject yourself to.
Outside of social interaction, other factors that can influence behavioral patterns are the following:
- extracurricular activities
- area of residence
- leisure pursuits
Leisure pursuits might seem to be a bit cryptic, so let me expound on this. Anything and everything that you do not do as a routine habit, but more or less are things you like to do when you get a free moment can be classified as a leisure pursuit. This is not to be confused with extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities deal more with those things you deliberately choose to do (like sports, dance, working out, etc.) and fit them into your schedule as a routine. This is something you gave direct thought to, choose to do after careful consideration and work at maintaining time for it.
Leisure pursuits, on the other hand, are things you don’t really think about at all. You do them spontaneously, and quite possibly, out of habit. This can include the slightest things like the kind of music you listen to, the sort of shows or movies you like to watch, the type of places you like to hang out in (coffee houses, bars, clubs, restaurants), what you tend to purchase for enjoyment (as opposed to necessity), and the kind of environment you gravitate towards when you want some down time. Once again, it’s important to take a close look at this and determine if there is a pattern in what you do. Find the pattern and see if it feeds into any limiting habits or thought patterns you wish to break. You might be surprised at what you find out about yourself by analyzing what you do at the times you are least inclined to worry about it.