The “Surround Yourself . . .” memes are abundant on social media, reminding you to be around people who encourage, inspire, challenge, and support you. No one ever tells you to surround yourself with people who drag you down, take all your energy, and make you feel bad about yourself.
And as much as those Facebook philosophers’ advice seems like simple common sense, Professor Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, actually backed it up with research. He discovered that when two people are together, their brain waves begin to look almost identical. Meaning, you really do become like the people around you.
He applies this to decision-making. Because making consistent, daily decisions is stressful, you should carefully pick the people you spend time with. If you have goals, surround yourself with people who have either already attained them or are working toward them. Over time, you’ll begin to mimic those behaviors and become more of the person you want to be.
Professor Cerf could have saved himself ten years of wise research if he had just shared Bible passages. After all, God has been wise for all of eternity. He lets us know in Proverbs 13:20, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Want to make good decisions? Surround yourself with people who make good decisions. Want to have a stronger prayer life? Pray with people who love to pray. Wishing you’d read your Bible more? Ask a friend to text you passages each day. Want to be a better parent? Talk to parents you admire.
Want to be a companion of fools? Then hang around with knuckleheads: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Here’s one thought, though: surrounding yourself with people who think like you could mean you end up living completely in a bubble of believers. That’s not okay. You’ve been given the good news of Jesus and get to take it to a hurting world. Invite people to worship with you. Have them over for coffee. Even when you’re the only believer at work, be an influence on the people around you. The more you share your joy, the more the Holy Spirit can work in them and make their brain waves more like yours.
Finally, makes sure that you surround yourself with Jesus so that “in your relationships with one another, [you can] have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
For more encouragement on surrounding yourself with like-minded people, watch this video from Your Time of Grace.
Linda Buxa and her family spent a week vacationing with friends this week. That’s when they read about the professor’s research—and noticed that their brain waves were similar. She feels a little sorry for those friends . . .