I am training my tree. I have this vision of how it will look many years from now. It will be different from the other trees in my new-construction neighborhood where all of the trees are young and small now. I am winding the small branches that grew at the bottom around the trunk and weaving some of them to take the shape I have envisioned. I have pruned some shoots off in the process. The pliant branches that have moved where I wanted them to go have to be held in place, because even though they were easily placed, they would not naturally stay there. Sometimes I look at my work, and I am excited to see it taking shape. Sometimes I look at it and wonder if what I am doing will yield the results I am hoping for. I feel much the same as I am working to write my own life story.
The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu famously said, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” In this adage, we find the wisdom of training with a purpose starts in our small and everyday thoughts.
We all love a story of heroic success, but would we be inspired if there were no obstacles for the hero to overcome? Is it possible for us to look at our trials and hardships and see them as building blocks, think of them as stepping stones, speak of them as opportunities, act with courage as we face them, and then become the hero of our own story?
What if we see ourselves as hopelessly flawed, not really hero material? Couldn’t we remind ourselves that heroes aren’t perfect, learn from our mistakes, and become better? Maya Angelou encouraged this very idea when she said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This is also very helpful in our supremely important efforts to forgive ourselves and others. We must be sure to not let past mistakes limit our future growth or that of others who are working to become better.
Just as I have had to prune the tree in addition to moving and securing some branches, it is imperative that we cut out some thoughts before they have time to settle and change the course we are hoping to take. Fixating on something that is not in line with what you want your life to be will only have the effect of causing a derailment, bringing confusion and despair. James Allen wrote, “As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called ‘spontaneous’ and ‘unpremeditated’ as to those, which are deliberately executed.” This is why it is important to be sure that the seeds we are planting in our mind through entertainment and association are in line with what we hope for our future and destiny.
I do truly believe that there is power in our thoughts that do lead to our words and actions. The way we speak to our inner self and the thoughts we choose to let grow can help us to become the hero of our story.
What is your purpose? What do you want for your destiny? Are your thoughts leading to words and actions that will take you there?