‘For our ancestors, the elaboration of mirror neurons would allow them to read each other’s desires from the subtlest of signs and thus elevate their social skills. It would also serve as a critical component in toolmaking – one could learn to fashion a tool by imitating the actions of an expert. But perhaps most important of all, it would give them the ability to think inside everything around them.’ – Robert Greene (Mastery)

You know, you always hear things like ‘bad company corrupts good manners’ and the importance of choosing your friends wisely. Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how the people we spend our time with influence us. I was milling about my apartment making breakfast one morning while listening to an audio recording of the book Mastery by Robert Green (dope book btw) and I heard the above words. I started to think about how powerful the subconscious mind is and the connection between influence and mirror neurons.

The concept of mirror neurons is this – if we watch someone perform an action, our brains fire off as if we were doing the same action. So if you did a scan of your brain while you watched joe throw a ball, your brain will light up as if you were throwing the ball. Now beyond simple neural mimicry, as humans, we can also imagine the intentions of the person performing said action. We can essentially think inside them. This means that as you watch (unconsciously) the people around you go by their lives, your mind subconsciously mirrors them…thinking in their heads, imagining their motives and influencing your life. You are always absorbing and responding to the influences of the people around you. If you are hanging around someone with bad habits, you would probably pick them up subconsciously.

If the behaviour of the people around you repulse you so much, then you may not pick those up. However, many insidious effects may still well get through. Imagine how much you are subconsciously absorbing from the people around you. This is not a new idea, but it is timeless. Be careful of the people you spend your time with, you will become like them.

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