Having a few, good, loyal friends by your side can be incredibly rewarding.
It’s great to have somebody – or indeed a group of somebodies – who totally get your odd sense of humour, niche obsessions and embarrassing crushes.
You can be your craziest, rantiest, giggliest self and a true friend will be right there with you, sharing the weirdness along with a pitcher of Sex On The Beach.
A solid friendship can bring a multitude of benefits – from morale boosting to slightly dubious dating advice. However, you do need to make sure you pick the right mates, your engagement with reality may well depend on it…
A Northwestern University neuroscientist has discovered the best way to find happiness is all about who you choose to spend your precious time with.
Moran Cerf – who has studied the science of decision-making for over ten years – told Business Insider:
The more we study engagement, we see time and time again that just being next to certain people actually aligns your brain with them.
This means the people you hang out with actually have an impact on your engagement with reality beyond what you can explain.
And one of the effects is you become alike.
So it’s therefore super important to choose your friends with care. You are aligning your brains with these people, which is really no small commitment.
Ideally, you would want to align yourself with a person whose traits and attributes you admire and which reflect the sort of person you would like to be.
Cerf’s assertion is based on two crucial premises. The first premise is the tiring nature of decision-making. Human beings are generally lazy creatures, who don’t have boundless mental energy to use up on mind management.
We are faced with decisions at a continual rate, from your Monday morning cereal to your Friday night box set binge, and this more-or-less drains our mental energy stores.
The second premise is humans all too often believe they are the master of their own happiness, despite their shoddy decision-making abilities.
We stupidly believe that as long as we keep on making the ‘right choices’ – with our befuddled human brains of course – we are propelling ourselves along the road to happiness and life satisfaction.
According to Cerf, this couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, our decisions are marred with biases which can give us a shaky perspective on things.
Terrible experiences can be later recalled as being life-changingly positive, whereas happy times can be dulled with doubt and negativity in retrospect.
We are emotional animals, and our tangled, confusing feelings can all too often mean a logical choice can quickly turn illogical, based on our past experiences.
Social cues lead us to make decisions we might not have made with a clearer mind, even on a subconscious level.
However, all is not lost and Cerf argues the second premise can actually be used to really take charge of your life. Human fallibility for the win.
Cerf’s research has found how a pair of humans enjoying each others company will quite literally bond. In fact, their brainwaves will look more or less identical.
Of course, we all know how a negative person can bring down your mood whereas a comical person may well brighten your day – this may well have profound effects on your quality of life.
Cerf argues how those seeking optimum happiness should ensure their life requires the minimum amount of decision-making. This entails surrounding themselves with people with personality traits they admire.
Cerf explains how – over time – they will begin to soak up the behaviours of these friends. Further, this will help alleviate the mentally-draining low level decisions which plague our daily lives.
For example, Cerf admits he dislikes picking a restaurant when going out for a meal, and would rather just decide on a trustworthy friend to eat with.
It is likely this chosen friend will pick a place Cerf will like, bringing even greater levels of life satisfaction.
(Life lesson: always pick a friend with a healthy appreciation for pizza.)
This can also work well for a number of scenarios, whether you want to become more sporty, musical or outgoing.
It really is all about who you know.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.