Childhood influences

It is no exaggeration to say that one’s childhood influences inspire and colour one’s perception in later life. Indeed, childhood years, being so impressionable and vibrant, can make a deep impact and influence the way one views and perceives life’s varying situations and scenarios. 

So, if one has had a cheerful, optimistic and sanguine childhood with plenty of positive influences such as good family bonding, religious and caring parents and siblings, one is more likely to have a better adjusted and more cheerful disposition than those with traumatic childhood experiences.

However, as this piece reveals, one need not fret nor fling one’s hands in sheer despair if one’s childhood has been far from satisfactory, because, one can use it as a springboard to success sho­u­l­d one take it – not negatively – but as a riveting challenge.

To show that childhood influences are indeed instrumental in moulding and chiselling one’s adult life, let me give examples of two famous Indians in relatively recent history. The first is former prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had a very optimistic childhood. In the book, ‘Jawaharlal Nehru’ authored by Tara Ali Baig, the author shows how one incident in Nehru’s childhood influenced his character.

It appears that Nehru’s father, Motilal Nehru, was a staunch disciplinarian. He used to keep two pens on his table. One day, Nehru took one of them. Motilal was infuriated and inquired who had taken it. Terrified of his father’s temper, Nehru was so intimidated that he didn’t own up immediately. Eventually, Motilal did find out and was angry on two accounts, one, that Nehru had taken the pen without his permission and two, that he had not owned up his mistake and come clean. Nehru used this incident as a sterling lesson in life which, with other lessons, influenced him to become one of the greatest prime ministers of India.

Mahatma Gandhi too had a very powerful childhood, which greatly influenced his later life. In his autobiography, ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’, he recounts an incident where during a test, one of the teachers prompts Gandhi to cheat by spelling the word, ‘k-e-t-t-l-e’ correctly. However, Gandhi paid no heed to the teacher as he knew that copying is tantamount to cheating, definitely a wrongdoing.

Does this imply that only people who have had powerful childhood experiences will scale the ladder of success in later life? There are scores of people in all walks of life who have had far from satisfactory childhoods, yet this did not deter them. 

Even in the face of daunting situations, they did not lose heart or hope. They have not allowed their childhood hardships to hamper them, but instead have used them as stepping stones to ultimate success. They have done this through the via media of prayers, meditation and not giving up come what may. One should keep in mind the following quotation, “Just when the caterpillar thought that the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

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