I recently recalled an interaction that I had with my dad when I was much younger and had done something stupid; I do not remember exactly what I did, but whatever it was caused my parents to be very upset, and put me in big trouble.
I remember my father asking me, “what were you thinking?” It was not a rhetorical question, he was expecting an answer and I became very upset because I realized right away that if I had given it proper thought, I would not have done it.
The only response I could give him with tears rolling down my face was, I didn’t think before I acted. In addition to the big spanking that I received, what my dad said to me marked me for life. He said, “Next time THINK… NEXT TIME THINK”
Just the other day I reminded and thanked him for it because I came away from that incident with a commitment to think before I act.
I became a thinker. Some would argue that I think too much and at times they are right, especially when my thinking stalls or prevents me from taking necessary action. For the most part however, my thinking has been shaped by others and has served me well.
The late, great, Earl Nightingale taught me the main thing and that is: To develop the daily habit of thinking.
He suggested that we start our days a little earlier with a cup of coffee, a pen and a yellow pad (now I use an electronic device) and at the top of the page write your goal down and then just focus and write your thoughts, whatever thoughts that come to mind and to practice this discipline every day.
I gave it a shot. It was a little awkward at first but sticking with it over time has created some of my best ideas and formed one of my best habits.
Here are some thoughts about thinking from John C. Maxwell’s highly recommended book, Thinking For A Change:
- Everything begins with a thought. – Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- What we think determines who we are. Who we are determines what we do. – The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts. – John Locke
- Our thoughts determine our destiny. Our destiny determines our legacy. – You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. – James Allen
- People who go to the top think differently than others. – Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking. – William Arthur Ward
- We can change the way we think. – Whatever things are true… noble… just… pure… lovely… are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; think on these things. – Paul The Apostle
How has thinking shaped your life? What are some things that you have learned about this practice that we can all benefit from?