I believe that thoughts develop character.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.” I read this quote for the first time while sitting in my old choir director’s office. At first I didn’t think much of it, of course he had a cute little picture of the mountains below a gorgeous sunset with a quote like this underneath. He loved quotes and it fit in well on his desk. Not until recently did I realize what this quote meant, and more importantly what it meant to me.
It surprises me that something as little as a negative thought about another person can develop my character and eventually my destiny. This is the reason, I soon realized, that parents always say keep your thoughts to yourself. Character is what makes me stand out from others. I decided I did not want to stand out for being negative or hurtful towards other people. In fact, I wanted to be the exact opposite. I wanted people to come to me with problems that I could help them work out. I wanted to be patient, caring, and loving of everyone. And I wanted to start immediately.
In all truthfulness though, I began the next day failing to abide by the standards I had set for myself the day before. I went back to my critical friends, family, and peers. I was only fifteen, I thought, I could not make a difference on people’s lives. Indeed I did. I began thinking more and more positive every day. I smiled and waved to people I did not know in the hallway at school, and I started understanding the importance of politeness at home. Because of these changes in my everyday actions, people started to think of me differently, and I even made some new friends.
Although a simple wave or smile does not seem like much, it makes the difference. If one thinks positively, one will act positively, which will ultimately result in the building of character. Without character a person is dark and unseen by others. Not many people, if any, can brighten someone else’s day when they themselves are not brightened. Character is the light in my face and hop in my step. I feed off of the happiness I bring to others from a simple smile, to keep my mood up. Without those couple people in the world who make a change to his/herself, there would never be change in thoughts or actions. And without character in the world, we would all be simple.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.