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Choose Your
Friends Wisely

Written Sunday 05/28/06 by Joe Rossini

There are many definitions of the word friend. They can range from: ďA person with whom you choose to share your precious time with,Ē to ďA person whom you would drop everything for immediately, and fly to a foreign country in order to bail them out of trouble.Ē These are truly different meanings for the same exact word. The second definition is reserved for a very special person who has earned your respect and trust. This special type of friend is not the topic of this weekís lesson. Instead we will be discussing friends who you seem to share your precious time with for a variety of reasons. This lesson is also specifically targeted to the age group of 13 to 30-ish, since I believe that this stage of life is when individuals can be most influenced by their ďso called friends.Ē

If you have ever been a parent of a young teenager, you know how much peer pressure can influence the life of your child. It seems so important for teens to be accepted by their peers. In fact in many sad cases, the importance of being accepted out shadows the advice of parents and the use of good judgment. For example if teens are convinced by their ďfriendsĒ that itís important to smoke cigarettes and drink beer in order to be accepted in the crowd, it may be very difficult for them to resist. They canít fathom that the choices they are making at this early stage in their life, will play a critical role in their future health habits and well being.

Thus I believe itís critical at this stage and moving forward throughout life, to ďChoose Your Friends Wisely.Ē The only way to avoid developing poor habits like smoking and drinking as a teen is to avoid associating with those individuals who insist on indulging. Even though this seems easier said than done, we all know that itís possible.

Early teenagers grow up quickly and become college students. Even those who abstained from bad habits in high school will be tested again in college Ė far away from home and their parents, who were able to monitor their daily activities. Oneís choice of friends and associates can be even more critical during these years. The lure of fraternities and unsupervised parties where liquor and drugs are flowing freely can tempt even level headed underclassmen to take part in unhealthy and dangerous activities. Even the brightest students and athletes can alter their entire lives in one night, as we have learned about so graphically on TV regarding the Duke Lacrosse team. One night of mistakes can cause a wonderful kid to become a criminal and spend time in jail Ė ruining a very bright future.

Even if kids have chosen level minded friends in high school and college to associate with, their workplace will be the next stop on their journey to choose wisely. Going out after work for a few beers one night with co-workers can easily evolve into going out for beers three or four nights a week. The justification for doing so can be blamed on the stress of the job and the need to relax and drink after work. The problem of associating with individuals who drink too much is that you can easily become dependent on alcohol. Even when these individuals decide to stay home at night, they may purchase a six pack and watch some TV to just unwind at home.

From the above scenario, it becomes apparent why itís so important to choose those you associate with WISELY. Relationships always begin innocently enough, however if you associate with individuals that over-indulge in anything, itís prudent to avoid them at all costs. Poor habits are usually formed by individuals without even knowing whatís happening to them. Oneís TRUE FRIENDS and family will usually be the first to notice their changes in behavior. Upon being queried, the answers usually revolve around denial.

A good acid test for the 13 to 30ish crowd, who have conscientious and caring parentís, is to ask themselves the following two questions:

  • Would my parents be proud of those I am associating with?
  • Would my parents be proud of the activities I am engaging in?
As corny as this may sound, itís about the simplest test to make sound decisions about choosing friends wisely as well as choosing whether or not to take part in certain activities. If one believes that their parents would vehemently disapprove - perhaps it's worth reconsidering the choice? Don't wait until you are fifty, to figure out that your parent's advice and opinions were really sound. Wise decisions regarding friends and associates can create a life of health and prosperity. If peace of mind and happiness is important to you - choose your friends wisely.

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