The age-old parenting wisdom goes something like this, “If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”
The classic cliché, utilized by parents everywhere since the invention of bridges, is meant to motivate young minds to think for themselves.
Most of us, as teenagers, simply shrugged it off as stupid advice.
“Obviously I’m thinking for myself. How insulting to say that I’m only following along with the crowd,” is probably what we said to ourselves (or your kids thought when you tried it with them).
The older we get, the less it seems people speak this advice into our decisions.
But that’s okay… the older we get, the less likely we are to be persuaded by others into foolish decisions… right?
We are just as likely to follow the crowd.
In fact, there is a term for this tendency to follow the crowd: groupthink.
According to Psychology Today, groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible.
Non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform.
I think we all need to be reminded, from time-to-time, that just because everyone around us may be making non-optimal decisions, we don’t need to as well.
Conformity isn’t a value to be pursued if the group is moving in the wrong direction.
Consumer debt in the US has now reached $15.31 trillion.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 97.3% of Americans live an unhealthy lifestyle.
66% of the American workforce is disengaged at work.
85% of Americans suffer from low self-esteem.
And 77% of us admit spending time and resources on less important pursuits at the expense of things that matter most to us.
The desire to conform is not leading us, as individuals, in the best direction for our lives and families.
But there is good news, just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean you have to.
You get to choose the best path for your life.
You don’t have to watch the same shows as everyone else, you don’t have to buy the same things or shop the same sales. You don’t have to eat unhealthy, endlessly scroll social media, or hate your job.
You never have to sacrifice your greatest values and passions for the purpose of conformity.
So what if everybody else is doing it?