Who we are depends on who we observe.
Most parents caution each other and their peers about how they should behave in front of children. They set stringent rules for themselves so they can prevent their children from adopting unhealthy practices.
Regardless of our safety measures to protect children, we often forget that, not unlike a toddler, we grown ups become influenced as well.
We may not accept or even realise it most of the time, but we look at another person—a neighbour, a television artist, a writer—and be more like them.
That’s good in a way. When we look up to someone with purpose, knowing it will improve our life, becoming influenced in the best thing. Such influence can even spread peace and joy across the world. One person’s determination to help out during natural disasters and wars can turn into global philanthropic activities.
But when we don’t realise what we do and adopt certain behaviour for no apparent reason, influence turns bad. We lost sight of our common sense, following someone just because they are attractive.
That’s the root of most political and religious rebellions nowadays. We trust and advocate people, policies, and philosophies even though we don’t understand. We’re influenced by some famous artist campaigning for a cause they found. And since we like them as an artist, we tend to co-campaign without even evaluating it first.
In a society that turns a blind eye to these un-checked influences, no one questions a popular opinion or refutes an unclear decision. As a society, we become unruly and devoid of self-control. We neither think or reason, but serve as tools for others.
Cult groups of today thrive on such behaviour. A single spark influences so many people to rile up, evoking negative emotions in the name of goodness.
Our world isn’t a nice place. We have as many evils as we have goodness. It’s important that we prioritise our lives, understand what matters most to us, and learn to stand up for it. When we’re mindful, we strengthen our convictions. We’ll then know what kind of influence we want to attract.
That’s the sign of true maturity. We grow wiser and understand our purpose—and that our purpose changes with situation, age, interests, and responsibilities. That’s how we can choose who influence us. Without that clarity, we’d let anything and anyone manipulate us for their benefit.