Who Has Changed You?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is New Year’s week, so it’s time for the annual self-reflection and analysis that often leads to yet another New Year’s Resolution that may or may not…survive the month. Today, we consider a slightly different type of reflection and analysis.

Last year, we mewsed about how character is what people will remember of us. We looked at several individuals from the Civil War and how their friends remembered them, and then we encouraged you to think about yourself, and what you would need to change to become who you want to be. It’s easy to focus on superficial changes, such as weight loss, when perhaps we should consider the inner person and whether there are changes to make there.

Today, we encourage you to take some time to ponder the people who have impacted your life. We probably have many people (in real life or in books) who we would say inspire us. But we rarely take the time to ponder why they do.

Pick a person, whether a relative or a person from history, who has been a big part of your life. Then, look at why that person has affected you. How has he impacted your life? How has she inspired you? What is the root behind that person’s actions or words that you remember so well? Finding the root of an action is how we find the character trait—one facet of the inner person that they were.

Sometimes, the connection is obvious. Perhaps you remember the ready smile that was always on a dear relative’s face, showing his or her inner joy and love. But sometimes it is more obscure. Perhaps someone gave you a second chance, and it is only now, years later, that you look back and realize that that one action showed how much that person valued you and cared about you.

Reading a biography and seeing the influences in someone else’s life can help you to look for influences in your own life story. Did he or she have a motto to live by? Who inspired it or taught it to them? Who taught them their work ethic or passion? Who enabled them to pursue the education or career or interest that shaped their future? Who instilled them with a love of country (or family or helping others or…)?

We don’t become who we are in a vacuum. Little nudges from people in our lives (whether in person or in print) shape us. Finding those special people and analyzing why they had an impact on you will make you grateful to them—and inspire you to be like them as you impact others’ lives!

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