Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
— Chinese proverb
Everything we do begins with our thoughts. Every word we speak, every action we take or fail to take. Our habitual ways of acting and ultimately our character. Our thoughts have a profound impact on our lives, but how much attention do we give to controlling our thoughts. How do we improve our thoughts?
What is thought? If you are like me, you have rarely spent any time contemplating what thought really is. You might say it is an inner dialog, which is true, but I believe a better answer is that thought is the questions we ask ourselves. If you agree that in its essence thought is the questions we ask ourselves, the key to thinking better is simply asking ourselves better questions. Better questions; better thinking.
For example, when things go wrong, instead of saying, “why am I so dumb or why do I always do this?” A better question would be, what can I learn from this mistake? What will I do differently next time?
When we make a poor eating decision, instead of saying, “why am I so weak?” Ask yourself, “how can I exercise better self-control next time?” Could I have brought a healthy snack to help me avoid the temptation? Ask yourself, “could I have pinched my waist as a painful reminder of what eating junk food is doing to my body?”
If we want to do better, we must think better. We are a product of our decisions, not our circumstances. If we are overweight, the chances are that our family is too, so it is easy to say, why are my genetics so bad? Why can’t I ever seem to lose the weight?
Those are lousy questions. Genetics play a role in our ability to gain and lose weight, but a quick Instagram search under #weightlosstransformations and you’ll see hundreds of thousands of people that have transformed their bodies. Their genetics didn’t change. Their family members are probably still overweight. So what changed? Their decisions changed. Better decisions, better outcomes.
Everyone likes to blame genetics because they are out of our control, but group norms are just as powerful. If our family is overweight, how do they eat? What types of food do they eat? How often do they exercise. Are they really a product of their genetics or their lifestyle?
If we want to produce better results in our lives, it all begins with better thoughts. We are the only beings on the planet that can make ourselves happy or sad just by controlling our thoughts.
Your thoughts are powerful. They shape your habits and your habits shape you. We are a product of our habits. We are what we habitually do, but it all begins with the way we habitually think.
Better thinking leads to better decisions. Better decisions lead to better habits. Change your habits, change your life!
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