Leading with your thoughts
"Every thought a person dwells upon, whether he expresses it or not, either damages or improves his life."
— Lucy Mallory, A Calendar for Wisdom
The study of thought remains poorly understood by most, as does consciousness. Such executive functioning has now ripened into a multi-faceted mechanism through the ages—for survival, reproduction, or such—and what’s certain is that 'thought' helps to balance our reactions with meaningful responses, altering our behaviour to do what is hopefully the best outcome for us. This trial-and-error process can be helpful in both understanding the past and imagining an unmet future.
Popular myths state we have around 60-80,000 thoughts a day (I don’t believe there isn’t a specific source for this), with some people believing we have around 600,000 psychological moments per month—or up to 20,000 thought opportunities a day.
In short: we think a lot.
It doesn’t take much to see this; you only have to observe your mind for a minute to notice how many thoughts you can have. But most minds are set up for fretting about something we’ve said in the dim and distant past or having thoughts of anxiety about an upcoming social event we’d rather skip.
We seldom embrace the zen of the present, as the self-destruction from such a thought onslaught causes our mental processes to start colouring our emotions.
This is why positive thinking has become the centre of attention in recent years.
Good thoughts turn into good actions. The essence of Self-mastery is the idea that everything begins in thought, and our journey to fulfilment is about guiding those thoughts to the zenith of what we can achieve.
Much of life’s misfortunes are not in our control. But our thoughts can determine a large part of how it affects us. If you suffer in your life, look for the cause—not in your actions, but in the thoughts which inspired them. Try to improve those thoughts. If you are inspired, look for the previous thoughts which caused it, and learn from them.
One thought can compound itself and make a tremendous difference in your life, pushing you in the right direction when asked the right questions. It takes one important step: independence.
People who do not think independently allow the influence of someone else who thinks for them. If you give your thoughts to that someone else, it is a more harmful slavery than giving your body to someone else.
“We cannot prevent birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from making nests on top of our heads. Similarly, bad thoughts sometimes appear in our mind, but we can choose whether we allow them to live there, to create a nest for themselves, and to breed evil deeds.” said Martin Luther.
Excellent thoughts are purified and easy to change. We can slough off prejudices and live with an open and receptive mind. The same way a sailor sets sail and must make changes when the wind changes direction.
So, lead with your thoughts. And ask yourself, are they improving or damaging my life?