Why You Need to be Aware of Your Thoughts, Words, Actions
by Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 In past few years there have been a number of movies depicting how actions we take in the moment affect ours and others’ future. The principle comes from the “butterfly effect” first quoted in the 1950’s as a spin off from chaos theory’s ‘sensitive dependency on initial conditions’, and popularized in 1906 with Pierre Duhem’s book. What it means in our personal lives is that each action we take through infinite choices in the moment propels us into a probable future. Each word we speak carries with it the possibility of change for those who hear it.

 Since our actions and words usually come from preceding thoughts, the focus in this article is mostly on the power of our thoughts. It is well known from quantum physics that the observer influences the observed, and that what we think guides our lives. “Think you can, think you can’t, either way you are right” is a famous quote by Henry Ford. There are a thousand other such quotes about changing your thoughts to change your life, but that one will suffice. The point is that we are constantly thinking and by doing so we are constantly steering our lives in some direction, be it wanted or unwanted.

 My focus in what I teach in my classes for bringing peace into your life is on awareness. When you get to the point where you become aware of your actions and words, you can then zero in on the thoughts that produced them. This consideration is not only important in your life, but all those around you; even the strangers you pass on the street. I remember a story about a person practicing smiling and cheerfully greeting people one day. She wanted to get each person to smile in response. What she found out later was that one person she met had planned to kill himself, and was heading to a location to do that. Her smile changed his mind and he went on to discover more about himself and live a successful life helping others. We never know how what we do can affect someone else.

 On the other hand, there many stories about how a family argument got so stressful that people have actually committed suicide afterward. Words can gently lift someone or angrily bash someone; they are that powerful.  Our thoughts create our reality through our words and actions, and our words and actions have a profound effect on not only our outcomes, but those of others. If our thoughts affect other people either through ‘race consciousness’ or our words or actions, then it behooves us to pay attention to them. We pay attention through our awareness.

 As a martial artist, I know how important it is to be aware of my surroundings as I practice Tai Chi. While I don’t do martial arts from a combative standpoint, it is still important to be mindful of what my body is doing and its environment. I use that same mindfulness throughout my day to monitor my thoughts, words, and actions. The more I practice the easier it gets to be aware without having to remind myself. Like anything we change or start anew in our lives being mindful takes practice until it becomes routine and develops into a habit.

 So how do we do that? While mindfulness and awareness are cousins, practicing mindfulness will heighten your awareness. You might think of mindfulness practice as a tool to be more aware. Basically, practicing mindfulness is just slowing down and being aware of each aspect of whatever it is you are doing. A great beginning practice is to mindfully eat. Be aware of the morsel of food you put in your mouth using all your senses as it is slowly eaten. Put the fork on the plate while chewing and then pick it up with another morsel after you have swallowed the first.

 When monitoring your thoughts, words, or actions carry a small notepad and jot down notes to yourself about them, especially when your actions or words cause an intense response from someone. Set up some kind of reminder system so that you take notice of what you are saying or doing, or thinking. Once you get into a routine of remembering to be aware, you will become more aware. Once you become more aware, you will be able to adjust what you say and do to fit the situation.

 If you are a compassionate person, and I hope that everyone reading this is, you will want to prevent someone else from being negatively affected by what you think, say, and do. Practicing compassionate speaking, thinking, and doing certainly lifts each one of us to a higher place of being. We begin by monitoring our actions, our words, and our thoughts. Your actions are probably the easiest things to observe, so start with them. After awhile you will begin to wonder what caused you to do something or do it a certain way. Take notes and journal about what happened so that you gain insights of the thoughts preceding the action.

 Whether you want to believe it or not, you are responsible for your life. What you do, think, and say is your responsibility and no one else’s. You owe it to yourself, your family, your friends, your coworkers, and literally everyone you come in contact with to be the best person you can be in that moment. While the way others see you is an outward sign of your intent, what you really project comes from within. So you monitor your outward actions and words to get to your inner thoughts, and ultimately, your beliefs.

 It is only when you are fully aware of what you put out into ‘the world’ that you begin to touch the person you truly are. Once you understand that your words and actions come from long held beliefs formed as thoughts, you can take whatever steps are needed to set yourself free.

 Awareness is the key. Mindfulness takes you to full awareness. Practice these principles with the intent to know yourself at the deepest level, and the people you touch will feel the love that you are. Remember in every moment that your words, actions, and thoughts touch the world. Want a better world? Be a better you.


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