A while ago I started a new job. In this new position 55% of my colleagues were smokers. One of my colleagues that I started with was a non-smoker. In the first two months we were on the job, I never saw him touching a cigarette. Our office was located in such a way that we had a bright big view of the smoking area of the company. From our desk we could see how other colleagues smoked their stress away through a nicotine stick.
One-day, during our break someone else in our group of friends said that he was about to leave to use the rest of his break to smoke outside and so it happened that my other colleague decided to tag along. What seemed to be a very innocent thing to do. But then this happened a few more times and before we knew he was the one smoking outside. At first just cigarettes that he received occasionally from others but eventually he decided to bring his own pack of 27 sticks of nicotine.
When I would ask him if he was now an official smoker he would say no, he was just smoking from time to time, but that he wasn’t dependant on it. This was when he was a social smoker accompanying others to the cosy common smoking area. Before long I would see this dear colleague standing there by himself smoking his time away.
This could have been a coincidence but this happened to two of those who started with me on the same day. Not sure if the other smokers there all started by this occasional cigarette but I doubt that these two were the only ones who were influenced by the environment we were in. Well, just in case you were wondering, I would never be a smoker, I’d rather travel and go see the world, than spend any dime on nicotine. But that’s another story.
My text today is not so much about just smoking, which I believe that everyone has the right to do if they enjoy it. What I want to underline here is that two individuals have found themselves drawn to a habit that at first wasn’t theirs and eventually have given in to it. Those individuals were just like you and me. Intelligent, young, strong personalities. So what brought them into changing their behaviours?
Well, first let me tell you that our environment is of great importance. When you grow up in an environment of university graduate you are more likely to work as hard as you need to, to make sure that you end up with a degree as well. Not because you can’t make it without it, but more because your environment has generated this into your unconscious system that you need to have that too.
In the same way many studies have shown that children of abusive households end up to be abusive themselves. But before you go on and categorise yourself in a certain box because you’ve seen that pattern very often, so you think that’s your lot in life. Let me tell you the other aspect that many studies haven’t been able to explain.
The second element, which is the aspect of your will; the strongest element in a human’s brain. If your will is not strong enough you will end up falling into the pattern of what you’ve seen or see around you. But if your will is strong enough than your options are limitless.
Let’s go back to the smoking area, my two colleagues were not the only ones who have started to work there at that period of time, they weren’t the only ones to see cigarettes and smokers on display every single day, I was there too. I was one of those, 45% who had made up my mind long time ago that I would never be a smoker. So even though I was in an environment where this was almost promoted, I didn’t feel the pressure to go and be part of it. Ofcourse in the beginning it takes a lot of courage and strength to decide not to walk a certain way because the mainstream does so. To decide not to be a drug addict because all your friends are, to decide not to be just a simple party animal because that’s what “everyone” else do. It takes lots of courage to walk “the road less taken”. But it’s only by making the decision upfront and stand firm to your belief that you will not give into something that you don’t believe in just because of peer pressure or because of easiness that you end up opening a whole new path for yourself. A whole new wold where you get to decide how things go and how things will work out. You see it’s easy to follow the mainstream and end up in jail because your parents did so. But it takes a strong man (woman) to say -No- I want something better for my life, I want something better for my future and so I will not give in and will focus and work on the things that I believe will bring me to the right path.
Let me tell you that at first the pressure will be tough. I remember sitting there by myself when all my friends went smoking or standing there being the only one not drunk in the bunch and seeing everyone else half wasted away. In the beginning it can feel a little awkward, trying to grab your phone to keep yourself busy but before long you will be the one taking actions. You will be the one enjoying your evening but also the next day because you didn’t need the whole day to recover from the night before. You will be the healthy one building a great family without having to worry about your health or desperately looking for a cigarette at the end of the day cause you haven’t been able to smoke for a few hours.
Just like you copy the negative behaviours of others, you also tend to copy the positive ones. Although the latter is bit more difficult.
What I’m trying to say is that life will serve you many occasions to weaken your will, but when this happens remember that those who created the path, those we all look up to in this world aren’t those who’ve just decided to follow the mainstream because it was easy. But they were those who decided to take a step aside and follow their own path. So don’t be afraid to be a little different than the rest. Follow your own path and have faith and trust that you are making the right decisions; and can I share a secret with you? Well, by being the first to take another path you unconsciously open the way for others to follow YOU.