One of the greatest neuro-discoveries of the last decade came when scientists accidently discovered mirror neurons. You probably remember from 7th grade biology that a neuron is a brain cell. Brain cells transmit electrical and chemical signals, and connect to others to form networks (Scientists estimate there are one hundred billion neurons in the human brain). For hundreds of years, scientists thought the brain was rigid and permanent. They also assumed the brain could never grow new cells. Only in the last decade have scientists discovered the brain is pliable, plastic, moldable, and that the brain can grow.
A team of Italian researchers placed electrodes in the front of a monkey’s brain in order to study the neurons involved as the monkey cracked a peanut and put it in his mouth. During a break, one of the scientists cracked a peanut for himself, and the monkey’s brain made the same audible sound; the exact neurons fired when the monkey watched the action as when the monkey did it himself. Thus, the neurons “mirror” the behavior of another, as though the observer himself were doing the activity. For more on Mirror Neurons watch this amazing video on NOVA (once you get to this page, click just below the picture of the people in the middle of the page).
All this to say it’s important to spend time around others who are behaving and acting in ways that you want to mirror and have mirrored in your life. Your brain automatically “picks up” signals from those around you in ways you might never consciously realize. In fact, you become like those you spend time with, so it pays to be intentional our choices in friends and mentors.