Friends synch brain waves and live happier lives, study finds
Selecting the best possible people to spend time with is the secret to happiness, according to a new study. Neuroscience Professor Moran Cerf from Northwestern University has found through his research that when two people spend a lot of time together, their brain waves begin to look just alike.
Because our brain waves synchronize with people we communicate most frequently with, they start to actually resemble those of our friends. This level of comprehension is actually happening beyond what we realize, and so we adopt ways of looking at things and behaviors of close friends without noticing.
“The more we study engagement, we see time and again that just being next to certain people actually aligns your brain with them,” says Dr. Cerf. “This means the people you hang out with actually have an impact on your engagement with reality beyond what you can explain. And one of the effects is you become alike.”
Previous studies have shown this type of neural coupling is a key part of mutual communication that results from understanding each other.
For example, when we are communicating most effectively with a partner and we are on the same wavelength, we can even anticipate what they are going to say. The evolutionary advantage of this is stronger teamwork.
According to the Business Insider, Dr. Cerf says the best way to achieve long-term satisfaction is to surround yourself with the right people.
Dr. Cerf believes that people generally do not make good decisions. We do things we normally would not do based on social cues and also let our emotions turn rational decisions into irrational ones. Therefore, we should minimize decision-making altogether and simply decide to surround ourselves with the right friends.
Dr. Cerf says that instead of wasting our time focused on decisions that do not bring life satisfaction, such as where to go or what to wear, we should instead focus on the one decision that most affects our happiness – who to go with.
Ultimately, Dr. Cerf feels that we can achieve the utmost happiness and minimize the amount of exhausting decisions that need to be made in life by surrounding ourselves with friends who epitomize what we strive to be. If you want to exercise more or simply be a kinder person, for example, make friends with someone who embodies these traits and you will pick them up naturally.