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Monday, September 14, 2009

What Draws Us Together

I had a chance to catch the article Is Happiness Catching from the New York Times Magazine over the weekend. It definitely prompts one's mind to think about who is in your close circle of friends and what effect they have on you and what affect you have on them.

The article leans toward the fact that positive people have a bit more influence on negative people than the other way around. It also points out that there is always a common denominator in any group -- something that has drawn them together -- and that it is difficult to sustain outside of that common denominator for any length of time. Say, for example, that there is a group of friends who have known one another for quite some time because they walk at the mall every single day of their lives. Within this group, it would be difficult to be a part of it and not enjoy walking and good health. Your time within that group would be limited. It goes on to say that smokers have a tough time hanging with non-smokers over the long term. And that overweight people typically don't tend to migrate toward a group of gym rats and folks to try to take care of themselves -- and that happy people don't hang with negative for very long.

It's interesting food for thought on what ties us to our friends. We certainly have differences but there has to have been some common ground to bring us together and then keep us together. Differences? Commonality? What is it that has brought you to reside within the group of people you spend the majority of your lives with? Are you the influence on them or are they the ones influencing you? Interesting.


Stephen said...

I had thought about this after reading the article...
Was meeting blogger buddies,in person,going to kill the "romance" of knowing people from the internet? So far this summer, I have met two fellow bloggers & thier husbands & I was more charmed & I had a more relaxed time than I would have thought possible.
I have stated to the Husband & to friends, that I believe that relationships have a life. Some
are a few hours with a stranger on an airplane & some last for decades. Neither need to be discounted because of the duration. Touching peoples lives is always interesting.

Larry Ohio said...

People tend to stick with what's most familiar to them. It's just human nature.

There is familiarity in gender and sexuality. Gay men stick together because we are men, and we are sexually attracted to other men.

There is familiarity in ethnicity and religion. In cities there tends to be neighborhoods or pockets of Irish Catholics, or Jews, or African-Americans, etc.

And there is familiarity in those who have the same outlook as you, as you said.

Does this result in the total exclusion of the unfamiliar? It shouldn't, but we all know it sometimes does. I think we'd all do well to make an effort to be more inclusive with those whom we normally would not be.

Ur-spo said...

Jung Had an expression - " every country gets the foreigners it deserves" viz. you tend to attract to ourselves people who complement us.
My experiences positive people do attract other positive sorts.

Lemuel said...

I was struck by your post and by Larry's comment.
Within the month, I will be attending an informal college reunion (40th) organized by one of my classmates. I have never attended anything before and I am only attending this one because I have been "cornered" by circumstance and geography. (I only live about 2 miles from campus now.) These were my friends - 40+ years ago - but our common interest died once we graduated.
Likewise I find myself more and more only comfortable in the company of other gay men and really find no friendship or fellowship among straight guys.

Birdie said...

I was thinking about this recently as I considered my growing online friendships. (And, yes, they are friendships within the bounds of the circumstances the Internet provides.)

My closest friends here have almost nothing in common with me except our history: we have experienced the same events together over many years. That we don't agree on so many things: politics, hobbies, etc., seems to make little difference. But the friends I've made online are completely different ideologically; it is ideas that draw us together. I'm pretty sure that both groups would be uncomfortable with the other.

bridgeout said...

I tend to be drawn to people who exhibit things I want, need, or wish I was. And on the other hand... I do pick up noticeable pieces of my influence in people that I have shared my life with. When I first hooked up with my partner the language was often pessimistic. I recently noticed that the word "grateful" is now far more prevalent in her speech.

David said...

For me, a lot of it is circumstantial. I had friends that were a tight circle for years that I'd met through regular attendance at a piano bar. We would get together outside the bar for birthdays and other things, but mostly we met at the bar. When that bar closed the group hung together for a bit before dispersing. What really held us together was the place to meet.

I bet if you took the mall away from that group of mall walkers, it would be a challenge for them to remain a group for long.

Mark in DE said...

I think of this when contemplating what makes us join blog communities, and what keeps us coming back for more.

Stash said...

You know that Sesame Street song -- well, it's the reverse of "one of these things is not like the other".

Wayne said...

I agree that mutual interests draw people together. Whether they last depends on way to many variables.
Stephen said it well. "relationships have a life. Some are a few hours, some last for decades"