The Process of Life Starts in Your Head
How Good Is Your Thinking?
There are many clues that indicate where you and I fit on the smart scale, but none more indicative than the quality of the choices we make. Over time, our choices are external indications of how well we think.
Many of our choices are under the control or influence of other people. For example, many of the choices that we make at school or work each day are triggered or directed by teachers, fellow employees, customers or our general schedule for the day. However, we also make almost totally independent choices as well – whether we do our homework, whether we work exceptionally hard at our job/career and whether we are nice to those around us are examples. In either circumstance, we have to be good thinkers if we are going to make good choices in our lives.
So, the quality of the choices you make is dependent on the way you think. The kind of thoughts you have about the people around you, what you think about yourself and your thoughts about what you want to accomplish with your life all work together to form a way of living that governs your life and the choices that you make. In other words, the whole process of living starts in your head.
- When you look for good things in other people and make an effort to think well of them, you create a positive context for your own life.
- When you think of your life as an opportunity to help others, you establish a positive environment for interacting with those around you.
- When you think about worthwhile goals for your life, you create a positive reference for the choices that you make each day.
Your Actions Have a Two-Fold Effect
Another reality of this life-building process is that your actions affect you as much as they do other people. Not only does the new neighbor appreciate the flowers that you brought over to welcome her, but you gain a certain positive feeling for having done so. Yes, her life was made a little happier as a result of your actions, BUT your life was made happier, too.
In exactly the same way, but with exactly opposite results, the person who steals from another is, in effect, stealing his own opportunity to feel good about himself…and, at the same time, actually choosing to live a life that will mean little to other people. It’s a big mistake to believe that our words and deeds only affect others. In reality, we are on the receiving end of what we say and do as well.
Thought-by-Thought and Deed-by-Deed
So, you build your life thought-by-thought and deed-by-deed. It is through a lifetime of thoughts and deeds that you form yourself and determine the impact your life will have on others. These thoughts and deeds are, in reality, choices that you make about what you will say or the way you will act. As a result, it’s not something that happens to you, but rather how you choose to think and what you choose to do that determines the type of person you’ll be and the level of happiness you’ll ultimately achieve. If you choose your thoughts and deeds wisely, you are taking advantage of the opportunity you have to live a happy and rewarding life.
Good choices are generated in our minds. Granted, other things come into play – our love for others, our desire to pursue personal interests and the motivation to achieve something we deem to be important may, at various times, be factors in the choices we make. However, the more the mind is absent from the choice making process, the more likely you are to follow some urge and make a choice without acknowledging its impact on your life. “Because I want to” is never sufficient justification for making an important choice. We all need to be good thinkers if we expect to make good choices in our lives.
“You say ‘I think’ ten times a day,
Or fifteen times, or twenty;
And even more, well, anyway…
You sure repeat it plenty.
But pause and ponder half a wink,
And start your brain cells clinking;
I think’ you say, but do you think…
Or only think you’re thinking?
Schools teach math, English, science and history, but very little about the fundamentals of good thinking. Parents urge children to make good grades and to do their best, but typically they provide limited instruction to a child concerning how to think through a choice they are about to make. Friends, often untrained in making good choices themselves, are quick to offer advice and tell us what we should do. Therefore, until we personally take the initiative to become better thinkers, we are more likely to yield to our feelings, make snap judgments and head off in some direction with no real thought as to how the trip might impact our life.
A Little Thinking Story
Rhonda was 18 and very excited about attending her senior prom. Her mom had bought her a beautiful new dress, and she had spent the afternoon getting her hair and nails done. As she got dressed, she couldn’t help but think about her new friend, Ben. Although this was only their third date, she was already thinking that he might be just the one for her.
Rhonda and Ben had a great time at the prom and quickly hurried off to the post-prom dance at a local hotel ballroom. The beer flowed freely and Ben, ever the gentleman, was making sure that Rhonda was getting her fair share. When Ben told her he’d gotten a room at the hotel so that they could get away from the crowd, Rhonda grinned and happily followed him out of the ballroom.
Less than two months later, Rhonda was sitting with her mother in the kitchen of their home discussing the fact that there was a strong possibility that Rhonda was pregnant. Her mother listened quietly as Rhonda lamely explained, “I don’t know, somehow it just happened.”
Her mother sat there for a few minutes just looking at her daughter. Then her mother asked, “Rhonda, what in the world were you thinking?”
Time to Start Thinking
Maybe today is a good time to stop and assess just how good a thinker you have been. All of us can improve in this department, so don’t beat yourself up if you consider your own past thinking – and some of the choices you have made – to have been less than satisfactory at times. All that really matters now is the future. We hope that you will accept this call-to-action to make the choice to become an even more effective thinker in the future –we can all do better.
So, next time you are facing an important choice…stop and think about it, do some research if you need to and, if necessary, take the time to discuss alternatives with a trusted friend. Important or potentially life-changing choices take more thought, so be willing to think it through so that you can do what is actually best for you.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
The mind is everything. What we think, we become.
Written by Michael Nelson