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Beware of the Herd Mentality

Image of a herd of sheep walking down a country road.

We’ve all succumbed to herd mentality at one time or another. Whether it’s watching the latest blockbuster hit even though that genre rarely interests you, buying the newest phone even though your current one woks fine, or even voting a certain way because polls put a certain candidate in the lead anyway, herd mentality can be seen every day.

In short, herd mentality describes the process of people behaving or acting like those around them—often ignoring their own feelings in the process. Think of it like sheep blindly following the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the herd is doing.

While herd mentality can protect us in some cases, such as fleeing a burning building, other times it causes stress, chaos, and confusion.

The Dangers of Herd Mentality

When I was a young teenager, I had a clear glass covering the top of my desk in my bedroom. From time to time, I would collect thoughts that made an impression on me and placed them under the glass so I could review them.

One of the quotes I saved under that glass is about herd mentality. It may have a long-term effect on you, as it had on me. The quote came from Bernard Baruch, an advisor to presidents—among his many other achievements and contributions.

I quote Bernard Baruch:

“I believe above all else in reason, in the power of the human mind to cope with the problems of life.

“To nothing so much as the abandonment of reason does humanity owe its sorrows.

“Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in public or private life, have been the consequence of action without thought.”

Thinking Reduces Herd Mentality

Too often, people engage in a herd mentality. It takes courage to do what you believe is right, rather than following the crowd because you want to fit in. Unfortunately, this external motivational approach often has counterproductive results.

The best approach is to take a little time to reflect on the long-term effect of your actions before you do them. This little reflection can save you hardships, poor results, and needless stress.

Tip: Think about the long-range effects—not just the short-range ones—before you act. And if everyone else is doing something, make sure you really want to do that thing before joining in.

You can get many more empowering tips like this one in my award-winning book, Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. Buy one and get one free as a gift. You will not want to depart with your own copy. Be sure to check out the Without Stress Facebook Group where you can connect with other life-minded people on a journey to reduce stress.

 

 

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Dr. Marvin Marshall
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