By 1980 the world’s population had grown to 4,5 billion people. By the year 2000 there will be about 7 billion people in the world. Yet even among all these billion of people, there is something special about each person. There is only one you. You are one of many in your school. You are one of perhaps twenty or thirty in your classroom. You are one of several people in your family. And you are one of more than 200 million people in the’ United States. Among all these people, you are an individual, one of a kind.
The sum of all the things you are makes you an individual. Such things as your sense of humor, your shyness or lack of it, your ability to learn, the color of your eyes and hair, and your height are your characteristics. Many of your characteristics came from your parents. They were passed along to you at birth. These are called inherited characteristics. You are also developing other characteristics as you grow up. These are called acquired characteristics. You can acquire new characteristics as long as you live.
People have much in common, but it is their differences that make them individuals. Even identical twins do not have all the same acquired characteristics. One twin may like to talk; the other talks less.
Every person inherits physical characteristics from parents, grandparents, and even more distant ancestors. These inherited characteristics are called a person’s heredity. Carried in the sex cells, inherited characteristics are the basis for each person’s general physical makeup. They also keep on affecting physical development all through life.
From babyhood on, however, a person’s development is also influenced by his or her surroundings. These surroundings, which include the food a person is given, the people a person meets, and events that happen, are called the environment.
Environment and heredity together produce a person’s individual characteristics. For example, heredity determines that your body can grow only so tall. But you need proper food, rest, and exercise in order to reach that height.
Your mental ability helps to determine the kind of person you are. This ability is centered in your brain, a mass of nerve cells located in your head. The way it works is not yet fully understood. But it is known that your brain is what makes it possible for you to understand and learn. This ability to understand and learn is called intelligence.
No two people are alike in intelligence. Your own intelligence depends partly on heredity and partly on how you have developed since birth. Scientists believe that no one ever uses her or his brain to its full capacity. There is always room for mental growth.
How much brain power you develop is up to you. And it is also up to you to decide which parts of your intelligence you wish to develop.
There are many different kinds of mental abilities. Other person may be very good at math. Another may have an especially good memory. Some people are highly skilled at expressing their thoughts in writing. People differ as to which learning areas they are good at and.which they are not. That is why each person’s mental ability is special.
Notice the many types of people among your friends and schoolmates. Some are happy-go-lucky. Others always seem worried. Some are kind and generous. Others are critical and hard to please. These people are all different in their emotional makeup. How did they get this way?
People are born with different personalities. But everyone has the same basic needs for physical, mental, and emotional attention. How these needs are met affects your emotional make-up. Some people are fortunate that their needs are well met. Others are less fortunate. When a person’s inherited characteristics mix well with that person’s environment, the result is a stable emotional makeup.
Your attitudes are part of your emotional makeup. An attitude is a learned way of looking at things, people, and events. Attitudes are learned from your family and friends. You reveal your attitudes in your likes and dislikes.
Most of your actions are based on your attitudes. Positive attitudes that show you think well of yourself will be a great help when you are trying to make decision. But negative attitudes, which are usually based on fear or insecurity, will make it difficult for you to make decisions and to work with other people.
Most feelings can be regarded on some form or combination of the three basic emotions: love, anger, and fear. Each basic emotion has its place in human life. Love can make you easy to please and understanding. Anger can make you go out and strive to overcome obstacles. Fear can help you avoid anger. No one needs to ashamed of feelings. But we are each responsible to ourselves and to others for how we express them. One of the goals of the teen years is to increase the ability to deal with emotions in socially acceptable ways.