2) Choose to Think

2) Choose to Think

                        “Just think. Just be quiet and think. It will make all the difference in the world.”
                                                            Mr. Rogers

People who live meaningful, effective and fulfilling lives think differently than those who don’t. To accomplish anything, you have to take action, and the success of the action depends on the thoughts that initiated it. All that one achieves or fails to achieve is the direct result of one’s thoughts. 

Think about who you are. Think about who you want to be. Think about what you love. Think about what is sacred. Think about what is true. Think about what you want to learn. Think about your values and principles. Think about the fact that you will die and that this day is a gift. Think about what is important. Think about what is priceless. Think about how you wish to live your life.

Be a “critical” (not negative, but questioning) thinker. Ask: What evidence, experience, authority supports this statement, contention, theory? Is the evidence verifiable and complete? Are the premises valid?  Are my intentions honorable, and right for all concerned?

Effective thinking is seeking the whole picture, looking for relationships, looking for patterns rather than pieces.  To make effective decisions about how to live, it is critical to develop the ability to reason accurately and independently, rather than accepting answers based upon authority or tradition.

A collection of ancient Buddhist scriptures contains the following wisdom:

“Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
If one acts or speaks with a corrupt mind,
suffering follows,
as the wheel follows the hoof of an ox pulling a cart.

Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a serene mind,
happiness follows,
as surely as one’s shadow.”

We become what we think. To get control of our lives, we have to think, and control what we think. Clear thinking involves effectively gathering, accessing and integrating the multiple messages coming at us from the reality around us and within us. The characteristic that makes us uniquely human is the ability of our minds to examine their own processes, to think about thinking.  We can, and should, mentally examine: How did I reach that conclusion? Was my conclusion influenced by my prejudices? Is my conclusion logical or does it reflect the way I want things to be? What are my goals and objectives? Will this decision enable or impede my goals? What kind of person do I want to be? Are my actions consistent with who I want to be?

Thinking is, of course, only the first step. The right thoughts are critical for they drive action, but what really matters is what we do.  The objective is to produce the right results. The quality of results are almost always determined by the strength and quality of the thinking and effort expended in achieving them.

Words are powerful. Think before you speak. Empower the three gatekeepers of the Buddha’s advice about speaking:

                        Is what I am about to say true?
                        Is what I am about to say necessary?
                        Will what I am about to say do no harm?

Thinking clearly takes commitment, effort and practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Our ability to think, and to think about thinking, is a tremendous gift. We use it or lose it.

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