Every day we make thousands of decisions, but regardless of the color of the clothes we will wear, the amount of sugar we will put in our coffee or the job offer we will reject or accept, the truth is that there is only one decision to be happy. truly transcendental in our life: the people we have chosen to accompany us.
At least this is what Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, argues, who thinks that happiness does not depend on success or on the things we have, but rather on the people who are by our side.
Your energy is limited: what do you want to use it for?
Cerf starts from the idea that making decisions can be a tiring process that consumes a great deal of emotional and cognitive energy. If we make many small decisions every day, we run out of resources to make the really important decisions that can change the course of our life.
In fact, we usually think of our mental resources as an inexhaustible source, but in reality this is not the case. Willpower, for example, is a finite resource that is consumed every time we have to make a decision that requires our self-regulating resources to start. In other words: having to control ourselves all day is exhausting, so when evening comes, our nerves are likely to break down and we are more likely to lose control or give in to temptation.
Arguing with people or having to constantly reach agreements is also exhausting. This is why Cerf places attention on those around us. His theory is that, if we surround ourselves with people who have tastes, values and beliefs similar to ours, we will avoid arguing continuously for trivialities, it will be much easier to reach agreements and our life will flow better.
Cerf warns us that our energy is limited, so we must use it intelligently, and that means wisely choosing the people we will bring into our inner circle.
Our brains synchronize, for better or for worse
Neuroscience has shown that when two people do something together, there is synchronization between their brains, which means that their brain waves tend to move in the same way.
A study conducted at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris revealed that when we interact with other people we not only have a tendency to mimic their movements, but the same key functional centers in the interindividual brain network are also symmetrically activated.
Brain synchronization, as demonstrated by another study conducted at the Eastern Normal University of China, is critical for prosocial behavior; that is, to connect to others. However, it also has a dark side: we can become infected with the negative emotions and feelings of others by letting ourselves get involved in their "emotional whirlwind". And this wears us out.
When we bring a person into our innermost circle, we create a relational field that ends up influencing our mood. This relationship can bring us a lot of satisfaction, help us release stress and make better decisions, but it can also be a huge source of dissatisfaction, conflict and stress.
Choose people who add value - and become someone who brings
We must be aware that the people around us influence our mood, behavior and decisions. Just as we affect theirs. This means that if we want to be happier and live with fewer conflicts, we need to be concerned about carefully selecting the people we have brought into our lives.
If we surround ourselves with pessimistic people, who always have a problem for every solution, people who complain continuously and have made complaints their way of life, manipulators who want to decide everything for us or controlling personalities who want to know the smallest detail of our lives, it is not strange that we end up feeling overwhelmed and unhappy.
Therefore, one of the most important - and perhaps one of the most difficult - decisions we should make in life is determining who we can let in and who should stay out. To do this, we must be aware that we all have the right to decide with whom we want to share our most precious asset: our time.
Therefore, don't let social norms or chance choose for you. The philosopher Max Stirner argued that when we do not choose the people around us but they have been imposed on us by "destiny", we feel connected to them, and this bond generates frustration and limits us. Conversely, when we consciously choose the people we want to share our life with, we can connect from our essence and create a relationship that is truly useful.
Of course, we must also make sure that we are one of those people who bring value to the lives of others, accompanying without invading and loving without possessing. This is the key.