You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you – James Allen

Do you agree with the quote? Thinking is not just a way to pass time. It is the generator of a future state of being. If it is true for an individual, it is also true for a collective of people. In that sense we can also say: Together, we as a nation or a world community, will be where our thoughts take us. It then highlights the type and quality of thoughts we want to entertain as we progress, not only as individuals but also as a nation and world community, on our life journey. Are they the thoughts that will path the way to a destination better than the one we feel we are heading to?

Lifelong learners

Our thinking is a brain function and as such it is important to take cognisance of what we know today about the brain. To quote from the Maritz Institute:

Up until the 1980’s, scientists thought the structure of the brain developed during childhood and that once developed, there was very little room for change. Scientists now know that the brain possesses enormous capacity to change.

We know today that the brain is well set up for lifelong learning and adaptation to the environment. Age, therefore, is no reason for sitting back and switching over to autopilot. The principle to keep in mind is: use it or lose it. Furthermore, we should know that we do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. If the current debates about racism and religious and cultural tolerance all over the world lead to deeper reflection about our humanity and past experiences, it will be good for the future.

If we would use our ability to think more constructively we would feel much more comfortable to adapt to changes, we would feel much more comfortable looking at a complex situation in an attempt to understand it, and we would feel much more comfortable creating a new way of going forward. However, we are not only brains, but mind, body and soul. Our brains are the processors, but the quality of our thoughts will be determined by what our beliefs and values are. The question is: what resonates with our being? Lifelong learning is not only for the sake of knowing what to do, but, more importantly, for who to be.

Thoughts for constructive conversations

Our conversations with ourselves lead to conversations with others. If we have constructive conversations with ourselves, we will have constructive conversations with others. Our thoughts become our words, our words become our deeds, our deeds become our habits, our habits become our character and our character become our destiny.

We are now aware of the wonderful gift we have in our brains. We are aware that it is there for much more than processing of data and analysing and solving of problems. Somewhere beyond the processor, we know that we have a free will to chose what kind of thoughts we will entertain in our minds. And then the saying applies: garbage in, garbage out.

Who knows what 2016 has in store for us, what the news will be and what will trend on social media? I have to let go of such and other worthless thoughts. Instead, the words my father wrote me on my eighteenth birthday comes to mind:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Fil 4:8)

Author : Dr Gerhard van Rensburg