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Virtues in Paradise: Our thoughts lead to our actions

Sunday 17 March 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Virtues in Paradise


We live in our minds. We dwell in our thoughts. The world’s sacred texts speak of thought as the source of our being, our very reality. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

We need to be discerning about what we focus our thoughts on, because that focus determines our quality of life.

“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” (Buddha) “The reality of man is his thought.” (Abdu’l-Baha)

Our thoughts lead to our actions. Thought is the most real and creative aspect of our lives. The way we think about ourselves and others determines our confidence or lack of it, our love and our feeling loved, and all that we accomplish in life. The great inventor, Henry Ford, said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

There are two main facets of the virtue of thoughtfulness: one is harnessing the power of our thoughts to make wise decisions. The other is focusing mindfully on the needs of others and showing our love and care in meaningful ways.

An important question to ask ourselves is how much of the time are our thoughts focused on the unpleasant things of life that discourage and bring us down and how much time is spent in creative thought, including creating happy experiences and memories for the ones we care about.

How much time do we distract ourselves from the power of thought by living inside the artificial world of our devices? How much time do we spend in prayer, reflection, or meditation? How often do we think about and appreciate our strength virtues and even more importantly, bring ourselves to accountability reflecting on our growth virtues – the ones we need to grow? This practice builds spiritual strength and resilience, humility and happy relationships.

This may make sense intellectually, but how much control do we really have over our thoughts? Don’t they just come unbidden?

I believe we have more control over our thoughts and emotions than we realise. It’s incredibly challenging to stop a bad habit, whether drinking too much, overdoing video games, or growling our partners and children. Yet, it is powerfully effective to start a new habit to replace the old one – to focus on sobriety, to set boundaries on our gaming time, to use a kind and patient voice and to make requests instead of demands.

Then there is the aspect of thoughtfulness about the needs of others. People who are excellent gift-givers are examples of the power of thoughtfulness, which includes carefully observing someone’s likes and dislikes.

Continual thoughtfulness is one of the keys to joyful, loving relationships. Often two people in an intimate relationship have different love languages, even under the same circumstances.

When I’m ill, for instance, I want lots of attention, including the freedom to talk about all my symptoms. My husband is a wonderful caregiver and thoughtfully offers me those things.

However, when he isn’t well, even asking him how he is triggers thoughts about how bad he feels. His love language is silence and small, thoughtful acts like making soup. For me it’s like speaking a foreign language not to nurture him as I want to be nurtured.

But thankfully, I’ve learned to respect his need for solitude rather than solicitude. Thoughtfulness is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you … if you were they!

Our lives are in our own hands, and if we choose the path of virtues, we discover that we have always had these superpowers of thought to guide our way.