I have been told that we become the same as the people with whom we associate. If I surround myself with pessimistic individuals who hate their lives and seek to escape living through alcohol, narcotics or both, then the law of probability estimates my own foray into such a life is highly probable. Whereas, were I to court the friendship of optimistic humans who endeavor to acquire understanding and through life’s trials grow strong, gathering to themselves a treasury of knowledge that lends itself to moderation in all things, the likelihood of my becoming a person, complete in reason and resolution, is almost a foregone conclusion. My goal is not to argue with such assertions. I am inclined instead to wonder, without judgment, but with detached perception, by what method do we decide to gravitate towards the various people in our life. I feel confident that both you and I could intuitively answer that question, but I am also curious to know if there exists hidden, perhaps subconscious, unknown reasons that motivate us to make those choices.
I selected to hunt for a list of viable reasons, hopefully some facts, from experts and knowledgeable individuals and put this question to rest. This conversation is prompted by an earlier post titled, ‘Someone Said I Was Wise Today’.
The adventure begins.
- Character discernment is a skill most of us lack. It is the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff; the goats from the sheep.
- Jean-Paul Satre was known to have held the belief that: ‘Hell is other people’. Seems he was satisfied to lump all persons outside of himself into one category.
- For some, anyone will do because the opposite (which is loneliness) is a precursor to early mortality. Poor heart health and cognitive decline are the results of too much alone time. Loneliness is worse than smoking half a pack of cigarettes. Choosing isolation instead of association with others advances the moment of death; cognitive psychologist Daniel Levitin expects death will occur in 7 years, if and when we deny ourselves this basic human need.
- There are those with a death wish and those who want to be a centenarian. If you want to live to be a 100 years young, I will find you hanging out with a group of vegans exercising, practicing some form of yoga, and no stranger to meditation.
- It is a widespread belief that if you want to make someone your friend than put in the effort to figure out what the potential friend wants, likes, needs and then help this soon to be friend to obtain those things.
- When life is lacking the excitement we find so tantalizing, we seek the association of people we hope can make that desire a reality. It is the same drill when searching for prominence, status or fame.
- An only child, or a neglected child, will attach themselves to a person and their family, or select the closeness of a tribe, or seek the familiarity of a gang. It is a basic inbred need to belong. Sigmund Freud believed that the yearning to belong to a social group stems from the human urge to procreate. John Bowlby, a pioneer in the field of human relations, is the originator of the theory of attachment. He and his successors believed that it was this primitive need in us all that helped humans survive and not the drive to simply have sex.
Dear reader, those are some of the conscious motivating factors why we choose certain people with whom we forge ties and who eventually leave their mark having influenced us in a number of ways. Now, what about the unknown pushes and pulls that are exerted upon us.
- In 2007, a renowned Sociology and Psychology professor, A. Dijksterhuis, published a book titled The Smart Unconscious.
- He put forward this reflection, “When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.”
- It can be held as true that conscious thought deteriorates the quality of decisions; example cited is Wilson & Schooler 1991.
- It has been proven that unconscious thought can improve clinical diagnoses, judgments of justice in hypothetical cases and can also outclass the conscious decision maker on questions of morality.
- Decision making is much older than human consciousness as we define and understand it today.
I think I have learned all that I really need to know from the world of experts on why I choose whomever when seeking an associate or friend. From my search this time, the one thing I was happy to discover is that shrugged shoulders is the unanimous answer from all sources when asked: Why and what makes us choose the ones with whom we fall in love? It pleases me to report to the readers that for this question we are on our own.