Essay by Kadee143College, Undergraduate April 2004

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"Our genetic heritage endows each of us with a series of emotional set points that determines our temperament. But the brain circuitry involved is extraordinarily malleable...This means that childhood and adolescence are critical windows of opportunity for setting down the essential emotional habits that will govern our lives." by Daniel Goleman.

I feel that this quote refers to the fact that our environment plays a major role in the development of our personalities. One part of our environment that I think is a big influence is our cultural heritage. The way we respond to things is often learned according to the way of our own family members respond to situations. We internalize the actions of our family as children and adolescents without even realizing it. For example, Italian families such as my own generally are very expressive (or loud!) emotionally. They are overly joyous at times, and at other times they cry just looking at a commercial on TV. Therefore, I am extremely sensitive to my surroundings. The simplest things can make me cry, and the simplest things can also frustrate me.

The attitudes and moral behaviors of the people who are close to us are a strong influencing factor. Examples of this are:

1. If we are constantly exposed to compulsive behavior such as over- eating or drinking. Italians often encourage their children to eat even after they are full which encourages bad eating habits.

2. If a parent drinks alcohol excessively it can set a bad example and send a bad message that it's okay to turn to alcohol (or food) for comfort, etc.

3. If we are constantly exposed to negative thinking, then without realizing it, we internalize this and it is reflected in the way we live our lives. My grandfather would tell my...