Watch your thoughts: They become words
Watch your words: They become actions
Watch your actions: They become habits
Watch your habits: They become your character
Watch your character: It becomes your destiny
Attributed to a number of different sources, this popular saying reflects ideas that have been expressed by several major belief systems in the world. When I first read it many years ago, my mind kept jumping back and forth between the first and last lines. Since then, I’ve continued to contemplate the powerful idea that my thoughts are creating my destiny.
I was reminded of this recently while out shopping. As I walked through the store, I started to pay attention to the people I was looking at and then then noticing the first thoughts that came to my mind. In that moment, I discovered a powerful practice for myself: I could take note of my thoughts and my internal responses when I walked the aisles. What words did these thoughts produce in my mind? Did I label people for the way they appeared? What emotions did I experience when I saw a struggle between a mother and child? Did unspoken judgments come into my head?
Paying attention in this way gave me the opportunity to observe my thought patterns and my instantaneous responses to those around me. A treasure trove of private information came to me about myself and the way I think. I wasn’t hurting anyone in the process of learning more about how my thoughts work, and it was easy to do. Repeating this exercise over time, I’ve become aware that I feel more peaceful when my noticings and responses are neutral or compassionate rather than judgmental.
I’ve learned that noticing my thoughts is a powerful practice that allows me to change my thinking patterns and the words I use. My choices, my behavior, and my emotions all are impacted by the thoughts I allow myself to have. I know that neutrality and compassion will lead me toward my inspired self, and I want to continue this exercise as a way to get information about my mind. Because my thoughts ultimately become my destiny, they are well worth paying attention to.
The next time you’re in a public place, notice what catches your eye and then notice your thoughts. Become aware of the words you give to those thoughts. Do they match with the destiny you desire? If not, know that with practice you can change what you think and in the process you can change your destiny.