The people in your life matter more than how much grit or resilience you have

Lynn Rivest
2 min readMay 2, 2022

What are you doing to improve your life?

It’s a lot more about your environment than your personality.

Eric Barker’s new book Plays Well With Others is coming out soon. Today in his always valuable newsletter he shared an excerpt that he had to cut from the book because of his publisher’s word limit.

If this is something he cut, the book promises to be amazing.

It’s not who about who you are but what you do in different contexts

The excerpt is about the huge influence our environment has on our behavior. Eric explains that the best way to find out about a person is not to ask them about their personality but to look at their surroundings.

I love this because we tend to put too much weight on our autonomy.

We put the impetus of change squarely on working with who we are. I’m an introvert so I…, I’m a sensitive person so I…

Instead Eric says to learn more about yourself, think about what you do in different contexts. “I am…when…” and that’s where you’ll see more accurate patterns.

Your environment is largely defined by the people in it.

Those you surround yourself with — and the people they surround themselves with — influence how you behave in all areas of your life including relationships, success, health, happiness etc.

Here are some highlights from Eric’s research:

  • To get an accurate idea of how much a student drinks, don’t ask how much they think they drink but how often they think their peers are drinking.
  • A student’s grades will increase if they have a roommate with a higher GPA.
  • At-risk teens in group programs meant to help do the opposite. Because they influence each other and those programs result in an average 13% increase in crimes committed.
  • Cable TV increases support for women’s rights around the world. The divorce rate in UAE went up by 10% when the progressive Turkish soap “Noor” started airing in Arab nations.
  • If someone you have an affinity toward becomes obese, your likelihood of obesity goes up by 53%. If you both consider each other friends, that percentage increases to 171%.
  • Happy friends make you 15% more likely to be happy.

We like to think we’re the exception and that we aren’t so influenced by external factors but that’s just not the case. Accepting this means that we can become better version of ourselves by making changes in our environment. By looking at ourselves as the social beings we are.

This quote Eric shared says it all:

“We need each other to become ourselves.” ~Abraham Kaplan



Lynn Rivest

I talk about building a minimalist biz + aging boldly as a midlife entrepreneur.