Healthy Living Blog

Don’t be a sheep


For every one person in New Zealand there are 5.6 sheep.  Like the group pictured here, sheep are strongly influenced by one another and tend to be followers, not leaders. Fortunately, we humans are more intelligent and fully capable of leadership, creativity and free thinking. But sometimes you and I don’t realise how we can easily fall into the trap of being led by others in our thinking, emotions and opinions.

Just last week one of my daughters said that she thought I looked tired. Up until that comment I had been feeling pretty good. But that comment sunk in and for the next few hours I caught myself slipping into the feeling and excuse of ‘tiredness’. Has this happened to YOU?

A few years back there was an incident of hate-mail being sent to an African American student.  Researchers then randomly stopped students walking across campus and asked them what they thought of the occurrence? Before the subject could respond, however, a confederate of the researchers would come up and answer. One response was “Well, he must have done something to deserve it”. As you might expect, the subject’s response was more often than not, just like the confederates.

Then the researchers would stop another student and ask the same question. This time the confederate gave an alternative response that was something like, “There’s no place for that kind of behaviour on our campus”. The subjects again replicated the confederate.

The study dramatically illustrates how potent language is in influencing people’s responses. Language helps build the frame around people’s view of the world. You and I can either LIFT others, or pull them down, simply by what we say.  Be mindful of this. Be genuine, but if you think someone is looking ‘fit’, ‘strong’ and ‘healthy’ today, why not tell them so. If you value what someone has done, tell them so. Take caution not to blindly agree with the masses or to join in with harmful gossip. Be a free thinker. Don’t be a sheep.


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