Why do we like some people more than others? Some of our liking or disliking may stem from cultural, religious, racial, or gender bias that may be unconsciously affecting us and our attitudes and behavior. According to psychologists, children up to the age of around seven believe everything their parents say. So, obviously, what a child hears about others may deeply affect how that child as an adult feels about the people they meet. We humans tend to be clannish, make our connections within groups of people who think and believe as we do, and avoid others who are different.
I do believe that with social media and the ease of modern travel, this bias is weakening. We can interact with a person on the other side of the globe with just a few keystrokes on the computer or travel there by hopping on a plane. We can learn more about their lifestyle in days or hours than by checking out a book at the local library. The world has certainly shrunk, and everywhere we’re seeing more diversity. We can quickly learn about and easily become more familiar with different cultures and groups; we can get to see all the ways we’re alike and not just all the differences. This is really a very hopeful direction, in that it allows us to see each other as part of a global family. After all, the health of the entire planet and human survival are intimately connected with our ability not only to get along, but to like each other.
As a human family, we’ve made a great deal of progress, but we still tend to cluster with people who are like us and agree with us. This can well be illustrated by family gatherings, social events, political committees, and community involvements. We all express our preferences as to whom we keep company with.
So, the question remains: why do we like some people more than others? I’ve thought a lot about this. Knowing that I can’t make a blanket statement that covers everyone, I’ve come up with a few principles that cover my own life. First of all, I realize that everyone I share this planet with will see the world through the filters of their own experience. I vow to accept them as they are and understand that while I may or may not agree with their views or behavior, it’s not my business to live their lives for them.
I like people who can look me in the eye and who have developed the ability to listen and ask thoughtful questions.
I love people who talk about high ideals, values, and virtues, and whose conversations are uplifting and inspiring. I love people who are well mannered and polite. I love people who refrain from anger and knee-jerk reactions to issues.
I love people who talk about values and are filled with creativity. I love people who are actually making a positive difference by their examples. I love people who would rather think best of others and would never even think of chiming in with the negative mob mentality. I love people who handle adversity with grace and dignity. I love people who are open and genuine. I love people who in no way would cast others in an unfavorable light, but actually go out of their way to say something nice about them.
So, why do we like some people more than others? It’s not that we should dislike anyone, but human nature, being what it is, attracts us to the qualities in others that make the world a more pleasant place. Actually, you’re most likely one of these people, and that means you’re the person who brightens my day. For that I thank you!
Reflections from Turtle Lake,