Massive success is reserved for independent thinkers who aren’t afraid to break rules that don’t fit their worldview. If you want to be happy and successful, watch out for these 10 danger signs you are a conformist.

1. You can’t think for yourself.

If you can’t answer a basic question without consulting another person or your favorite search engine, then you might be a conformist. Nonconformists are confident enough to speak their minds without seeking anybody else’s approval.

2. You wear different masks depending on who you’re with.

If your behavior and personality are influenced by who you are hanging out with, then you might be a conformist. It is natural to curse like a sailor in the presence of friends, while at the same time avoiding curse words in the presence of family or co-workers. This is acceptable, because there might be certain expressions you only feel comfortable saying to certain people. Nonconformists, however, know that performing a different routine for every single group of people they come across can quickly become exhausting.

3. You pretend to like things to impress people.

If you think you can fake your way into a relationship, then you might be a conformist. Having a mutual interest with another person can create common ground, opening the door for a friendship to blossom, but this growth process can only happen if it occurs in an atmosphere of honesty and openness. Nonconformists roll their eyes at phony people who proclaim, “Oh yeah, I love that song!” when it is clear that they haven’t really heard it and are only saying that in a misguided effort to impress others.

4. You don’t buy clothes based on your personal preference.

If your wardrobe decisions are entirely based on seasonal styles, then you might be a conformist. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good and feel handsome or sexy in your attire, but you shouldn’t abandon your unique tastes for whatever happens to be “in style” this year.

5. You follow a religion because your parents told you to.

If you pray to a God or Goddess for no other reason than, “My parents told me to,” or, “That’s just how it is around here,” then you might be a conformist. Don’t misread me: faith can be a beautiful thing when it is a personal decision between a believer and the Creator that he or she chooses to believe in. A lot of folks, however, don’t go to church or follow a religion because it is something they actually believe… they go, because they’re afraid of what everybody will think about them if they don’t.

6. You vote for whoever your favorite pundit says you should.

If you vote for whoever Rush Limbaugh or Bill Mahler say you should without analyzing the issues for yourself, then you might be a conformist. I personally have a severe dislike of pundits of any political spectrum, because they are nothing but talking heads who distract us from the issues that really matter, so it blows my mind that any person would vote for a politician just because they “said so.” Nonconformists don’t let other people make their decisions for them; they make their own decisions.

7. You won’t confront bullies or wrongdoers.

If you see a person in your school or office get bullied and stare at the ground as if there is “nothing to see here,” then you might be a conformist. Bullying should never be tolerated. Your silence is a green-light for the bully to continue putting down others. Be confident enough to speak up for people who you witness being put down, insulted or made fun of. Nonconformists aren’t afraid of confrontations with bullies, because they are willing and able to be the change they want to see in their social circles.

8. You say things like, “That’s just the way things are.”

If you think self-defeating thoughts like, “I’ll never make a difference,” or, “Why bother? That’s just the way things are,” then you might be a conformist. And before you play the, “But I’m just one person!” card, remember that countless individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa have accomplished more in their lifetimes than any government or elected body ever could. Nonconformists know that just because something is the way it is, doesn’t mean it is right, and they had the guts to stand up for themselves and say so.

9. You’re afraid of what society thinks.

If you make important decisions based on what “society” thinks, then you might be a conformist. It is human nature to want other people to like and accept us, but making life-changing decisions based on popular opinion (instead of your personal belief) will not make you happy or fulfilled. Nonconformists know Mark Twain was right when he said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

10. You get all your news from a single source.

If you are deluded enough to think your cherished media outlet of choice is free of personal bias, then you might be a conformist. Nonconformists are aware that humans are inherently flawed beings who can’t keep their opinions to themselves. So it is silly to expect any newspaper or television station to be 100% unbiased. Journalists, editors and talking heads are ruled by their prejudices just like the rest of us, and it is delusional to think otherwise.

If you would like to test this final theory from these signs you are a conformist, perform a thought-experiment by paying attention to the most popular breaking headlines at a few different media outlets over the course of about a week. You could follow the news cycle at places like CNN, MSNBC, Fox Newsthe Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Salon, First Look Media, and the Guardian. You should notice that certain “Breaking News” stories receive constant coverage at some outlets, while not receiving as much as a mention at others. The only way to stay informed about the world is to cast a wide net, collecting information from several places; because if you put your faith in any single media outlet, you will be doomed to be a sheep forever.

Featured photo credit: Sheep/Peter aka anemoneprojectors via flickr.com

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