The Tribal Effect on Health

The Tribal Effect on Health

I hope ya’ll had a fabulous month with those you love including yourself?

This week I wanted to talk about the power of accountability and how being with others in community can help you grow and lift you up.

It is a conversation I have on repeat with my patients, especially when they are trying to integrate a new good for them habit and have it be sticky. It can be hard to make change especially if everyone around you is not on the same page. I also discuss this idea at length with parents who want to get pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy and build a healthy human.  We discuss the value of team/ tribe as it relates to decisions and choices.

One of the best authorities on change and how to integrate healthy habits is James Clear. He is the NY Times best selling author of the book Atomic Habits.

BTW: James Clear released a new app this week called ATOMS.  It might be helpful as a way to nudge you towards a new healthy habit.  Check it out.

He likes to link a habit to a new identity. It goes like this:

I will (action/behavior) when (time/place) so that I can become (indentity).

An example would be – I will mediate every mroning at 6.00am for 20 minutes so that I can start my day in peace, increase resilience and become a more calm and stable version of myself.

 The Tribal Effect on Health

One of the most powerful drivers of habits and behavior change is our the social/ work/ family environment.

We are all part of multiple tribes. The tribes we belong to shape our behavior.

The key factor in any of these tribes is that we have a sense of belonging. When you want to belong to a tribe, you want to repeat the habits of that tribe. We naturally soak up the habits of those around us.

If you move to a new neighborhood where your neighbors meticulously maintain their lawns, you might start gardening or landscaping your lawn too.

You choose to start going to a CrossFit class where all your classmates eat a Paleo diet, you might start eating that way too.

If join a church or mosque that values community service, you might start volunteering your time as well. You’ll rise together.


The key step is to join a group where your desired behavior is usual.

New habits seem achievable when you see others doing them every day. If you’re surrounded by readers, you’re more likely to consider reading to be a common habit. If you’re surrounded by people who recycle, you’re more likely to start recycling too. If your child is surrounded by friends who value studying and getting good grades, he or she will likely develop studious habits too.

My friends who meditate and work out tell me the same thing: it is much easier to do with someone else. When you’re meditating or workout alone, you can give up whenever your mind wanders. Maybe you were planning on doing ten minutes of meditation, but it’s been seven minutes and, whatever, that’s good enough. But when you’re meditating with a friend and seven minutes pass, well, you don’t want to be the first one to quit. You’ll sit there the entire time.

Nothing sustains motivation better than belonging to the tribe. It transforms a personal quest into a shared one. Previously, you were on your own. Your identity was singular. You are a reader. You are a musician. You are an athlete.

When you join a book club or a band or a cycling group, your identity becomes linked to those around you. Growth and change is no longer an individual pursuit. We are readers. We are musicians. We are cyclists.

The shared identity begins to reinforce your personal identity. This is why remaining part of a group after achieving a goal is crucial to maintaining your habits. It is friendship and community that embed a new identity and help behaviors last over the long run.


I hope you enjoyed the article ? I hope it has encouraged you to use this idea to help you on your wellbeing journey?  I know it has helped me.  My community of Yogis, Mediators and my many Wholistic Wellness groups have helped me stay the course over the years. BTW   It is the reason why the Blue Zones work!!

It is also why my green zone program which I launched last year was embraced by its members.

Have a Healthy Week and If you could use support and accountability I am here to serve


Dr Pia