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Timely Talks with Teenagers
Daniel Kauffman

Influence of Others over You
Pages 28-30

In our last chapter we spoke of the influence which our companions exert over us. Let us now notice the reason why.

Disease is not the only thing that is contagious. Laughing, crying, coughing, stammering, and every known habit are to some extent "catching." Did you ever discover yourself laughing without knowing what you were laughing at? Why did you laugh? Because others laughed. It is hard to be in a room where others are weeping or sorrowful without ourselves having a feeling of sadness. I know a boy years ago who stammered very painfully. He fell into the habit of stammering by being with a man similarly afflicted. You have probably noticed while at school that when several pupils commenced to cough, others also commenced without thinking. These are illustrations which show the power which people have over one another. This power we call influence.

Did you ever notice the changes in character which took place in the lives of young people with whom you were acquainted while they were away at school a few years? Were not these changes due in large measure to the influence which others had over them? In fact, you can nearly always tell when young people are away from home and then come back what kind of company they were in while away. We are all subject to influence. As we are affected by the atmosphere we breathe, whether pure or impure, so we are surrounded. Few people realize to what extent they are under the influence of others.

The extent to which we are influenced by others depends upon several things.

1. AGE
Young people are more easily influenced than older persons. The extent of their knowledge and experience is more limited, their characters are just being formed, and therefore more subject to impressions.

The more sympathy we have for people, the more readily we are influenced by them. A certain writer says, "Children learn from those they love." In this particular, what is true of children is true of all people.

Strength of character means power in influence. Usually the opinion of a neighborhood is first formed in the mind of one or more strong-minded people. Because of their positive characters, their influence is more marked than that of people of less prominent traits.
The power of influence is generally recognized, but there are too few people who keep themselves away from the wrong kind of influences. Keep out of vicious society. Avoid skeptics. There is danger that they may poison your minds so that you may never be as pure as you once were. Never stay in the company of those who speak lightly of crime or who are tainted with vice. Better associate with no one than with such people. Have no faith in a preacher who does not believe the whole Bible is inspired. Such preachers plant the seeds which spring up and bring forth infidelity.

Knowing the power of influence, let us surround ourselves, as far as possible, with good friends and good books. If there are some kinds to be avoided, there are others which should be sought. Choose for your associates those who are known to be truthful, upright, and pure. Before you mingle in any society, try to find out whether that society is worthy of your patronage. Before you enter any school, find our what kind of influences surround it. Before you start in any business, look into the question as to who your associates will be. And may you always be under the direct influence of Him who knows all things and would gladly lead in the way you should go.

It is not always possible to keep out of the reach of evil influences. Go where you will, evil is always present. Some people have tried to find places where everything suited them exactly. They kept on moving, but never found what they were looking for. But taking the world as it is, we should aim to avoid all the evil we can and seek all the good we can.

While we cannot but be influenced to some extent by our surroundings, we should seek to cultivate our characters so that we may be as far as possible proof against the corrupting influences of evil. The sooner our lives will be firmly established along right lines, the safer we are for lives of usefulness and honor. As you continue in your stand for the right, you will in turn be a helpful factor in molding the characters of others.

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