At the time I started putting this site together, I started looking for a new tag line. My students had been looking at “Question Everything Better.” on the screen before class for about a year. I had been considering using that here and then decided to find something new. I came down to wanting something to more directly connect our thinking to not only who we already are but who we will soon enough be. I surprisingly quickly stumbled across the following:
“We become what we think about.”
– Earl Nightingale
As I looked into Nightingale and the quote itself, I discovered Nightingale didn't take credit for this idea. He said he discovered it while reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, one of the fathers of modern self-help. Carnegie said,
“Our thoughts make us what we are.”
– Dale Carnegie
But, this didn't originate with him either. This isn't a new idea. It's not even a fairly new idea. The oldest similar statement I know might be familiar to you:
“As someone thinks in their heart, so they are.”
– Solomon (Proverbs 23:7)
Solomon recorded that about 3,000 years ago. You might be more familiar with this one:
“[T]here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
You might quibble that these two don't exactly say we become what we think, so to be more direct:
“What we think, we become.”
– Siddhartha Gautama
The Buddha said that around 2,500 years ago, and almost 2,000 years ago a Roman emperor wrote this in his diary,
“A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
– Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
and finally, closer to the modern day,
“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
There're many others who could also be quoted here, but I'd like to get to the point. Assuming you believe your thinking does affect who you are and who you are becoming, what kinds of things are worth thinking about to make that difference? What if you only have a few rough ideas about who “future you” is going to be?
Like so many things in life, you don't have to have a plan all spelled out in advance to get started on it in a realistic way. There are several primary reasons for this. First, even a rough idea is going to help you think in a bit more detail as you go. Second, that thinking will help you make better quality choices to take action with. Third, taking those actions will give you feedback for further thinking and choice making. And finally, there are a number of things to learn, practice doing and making a habit of no matter who you're working on becoming. I'll talk about some of these in the next several posts.
Your happiness is waiting.