There’s a lot of things that can affect our happiness – our love lives, our family, our career, and even our pets. But according to Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist who specializes in decision-making, there is one thing that can bring us happiness for sure. In terms of long-term satisfaction, Cerf claims it’s all about who we hang around with that determines our happiness.
Cerf claims that one of the most tiring things we do as humans every day is making decisions. This is known as decision fatigue, and it affects everything we do. The more decisions we have to make – what to watch on TV, what to wear, what to eat, when to fit in a shower – the more we feel this fatigue. We also tend to have the belief that these decisions contribute to our happiness – we put pressure on eating a good meal at a restaurant because afterward, we expect the good feeling that comes from it. However, our minds are unpredictable, especially our memories, and we rely too heavily on past experience to judge how good something in the future will be. So what is a more sensible way of making decisions, according to Cerf’s research?
Well, it starts with the company we’re in. A study of people watching movies found that when the most interesting trailers were shown, the people watching all experienced similar brainwaves. According to Cerf, this means that when we spend time with certain people, our brains align. Not quite as romantic as the stars aligning, but it’s the neuroscientific explanation for why we are drawn to certain people. These people affect how we connect with everything around us and even alter our perception of reality.
Depending on the people we’re around, our responses may be different. Someone who is funny will leave you with a good feeling, while someone who complains a lot brings your mood way down. Though this may seem obvious, what isn’t immediately apparent is that our brains are actually altering to the person we’re hanging out with.
For this reason, Cerf claims that choosing to hang out with someone is a pretty important decision. Not only will you start thinking more about the company you keep, but also how they affect you. It’s easiest to choose people whose traits you enjoy and to spend time with those while cutting out those who bring your mood down. Over time, you begin to adopt the habits of the people you hang out with, and you can also use this to your advantage when saving yourself from decision fatigue.
Allow people to influence your smaller decisions, so that you can keep energy intact for bigger decisions.
For example, Cerf says he always allows someone he’s close with to choose where they eat. He knows that after spending so much time in their company, he can rely on them to pick a suitable restaurant. He also always opts for the second item on the specials menu, no matter what, which allows him to conserve his energy for more important decision making. He still makes the decision to hang out with a person, but from there, he has less to think about.
No matter what you’re hoping to achieve, it all begins with who you hang around with. If you want to learn an instrument, spend time with someone musically inclined. If you want to become a more selfless person, go volunteering with someone willing to give up their spare time for others. There are complicated things going on in your brain, but simply choosing your friends wisely makes life that little bit easier.
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