How Our Friends Influence Us

Light pink background with a photo of a teen girl in the middle.  She has long, curled, brown hair, is wearing a white and grey dress, and pointing to the left, looking surprised.  In the middle "How Our Friends Influence Us" is written.

The people around us can really help shape who we are. By being around happier people who push you to do better and believe in you, you become a better person too!  But, how does being around these types of people help us feel happier scientifically? A study done by James H. Fowler concluded that if one of your friends becomes happy, your chance of feeling the same way increases by twenty-five percent. Just to start.

Experts have found that when around someone, we copy their facial expressions, posture, and their behaviors in general. Additionally, when you’re talking to someone who seems to be in a fairly good mood, you might pick up some of the energy as well, just like how we would with a negative mood. This is called emotional contagion. The more time you spend with someone that is always irritated and negative, the more you start to behave like them, even if you were less like that in the beginning. But, this goes the same way for happy uplifting people. 

Happy and uplifting people don’t have to be constantly the happiest and perkiest people around. As long as they lift your mood and help you feel better about yourself, that’s all that matters. Nobody is perfect, and having unrealistic standards can sometimes hurt friendships. Even positive people have their moments, and that’s okay. In these moments, use what they have projected onto us to help them on their bad days. 

Although emotional contagion can be good, sometimes understanding that not all emotions that you absorb are good for us. Here are some tips to not let the negativity of others get to you.

Name what you’re feeling

This is an easy activity to do. Firstly, ask yourself what you are feeling. Then think back and see if you felt like this before you talked to someone. If you were happy or excited before talking to someone, but you come out of it stressed or sad, maybe this feeling doesn’t belong to you. If it doesn’t belong to you, try to not let it affect you too much.

Visualize a glass wall

One of the best techniques to do when surrounded by negativity is to imagine a glass wall surrounding you. This wall protects you from all of the emotions that don’t belong to you. You can observe what is occurring past the wall, but it can’t get to you. Acknowledge the emotions that are outside of your wall, however that are not yours. You and your feelings are inside of this wall, safe from other’s energy. 

Teen girl with long, curly, blonde hair, sitting in a grey chair.  She is wearing black and white checkered pants, and a mustard yellow sweater.  She's holding a stack of white paper, and a pen to her mouth, thinking.

Overall, being around positive and uplifting people can make you a more positive and happy person. However, we are not always able to be around these types of people, and protecting ourselves from emotional contagion is so important for our wellbeing. 

We hope that this inspires you to find your people, and protect yourself from energy that is not yours, giving you a small bit of happiness.


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Featuring quick videos created for teens by teens.


The Ladders

Keir Brading Counseling