I remember my college years with a lot of fondness, not only for the amazing friendships I made but also for the life lessons I learned there. Being on my own for the first time, I let the freedom go to my head. I stayed out late with friends, skipped classes and was generally living the good life, or so I thought. It wasn’t until my friends got arrested at a party I had just left that I started re-examining my life and the choices I’d made.
After taking a hard look at myself and how I was behaving, I turned things around and chose my friends a little more carefully. I struck friendships with people who accepted me, those I was comfortable hanging out with without having to prove how cool I was. That’s when I learned the value of true friendship—having people who support, encourage and bring out the best in you and it is something that I want my children to understand before they leave home.
Your Environment Matters
The environment we place ourselves in greatly influences who we become. It shapes our thoughts, behavior, and successes.
Being social creatures, we have this urge to belong and to be part of a group. That’s what drives us to seek out friendships. While we think that our friends might be there only for the laughs and good times, it turns out that they play a bigger role than that.
Our friends can shape our moods and habits while also influencing our behavior, decisions, and emotions. Hanging out with positive, upbeat people can improve your quality of life. Research has shown that loving, healthy relationships have an impact on our health and longevity. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, as toxic friends can infect us with their negativity, draining us of energy and joy.
Simply put, the company you keep, to a large extent, determines who you are.
Talking To Teens About Environmental Influences
If there’s one thing I constantly emphasize to my teens, it’s the importance of choosing the right environment. With all the risks teens face nowadays, it’s crucial for them to choose their friends wisely, surrounding themselves with those who will inspire, elevate and improve their lives. We parents can play a part in helping our teens find good friends that will help uplift our children, rather than drag them down.
Some of this selection process comes down to parents choosing the right environment for their children. Also, this involves being selective about the media they consume. I want them to realize that the music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, etc., that they watch or listen to on a regular basis shapes their thoughts and outlook on life. All the negativity depicted in various forms in the media can cause a lot of stress making it harder to stay positive, so I advise them to indulge in it sparingly.
Ultimately, I want them to understand that they can choose the sort of environment to spend time in—whether positive or negative—and reap the fruits accordingly. By deciding to spend time with the best and brightest, the nurturers, dreamers, and go-getters, they’ll be increasing their chances of succeeding in life.
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— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 11, 2019
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