The first time I heard it in those terms was from Earl Nightingale. He was the gravelly voiced motivational speaker out of Chicago. I remember in the 1960s his brief commentaries called, Our Changing World, on the local radio station. But this particular phrase is the reincarnation of the words of Napoleon Hill who authored Think and Grow Rich. I have listened to the recordings of Earl Nightingale and have enjoyed and learned from them. I highly recommend any and all to do the same. Although he died in 1989, his recordings are just as valid today as they were decades ago. They are almost timeless.
And now as I look back at these few years God has permitted me on this earth, I know that this is more than just words on paper. It is truth. You do become what you think about. And in knowing this, a person picks most of his or her own destiny. In saying this, I sense a disturbance in the universe. How can this be possible? Is it that stuff we read about in The Secret? You might even say, “And that didn’t work for me”. But just saying, “You become what you think about” is only part of the full message. But like most things, we try to break them down to the lowest common denominator. You must go beyond simple sound bites and back to the full message.
First of all, for anything to happen, there must be action. Without action, nothing gets done. Even much of God’s work is done though the hands of men taking action. But enough theology for now. Man is the only animal that can change its destiny. All other creatures are controlled by nature and instinct. We can change our lives and do it all the time, simply by thinking and letting those thoughts guide our actions.
But beside actions, there is another thing that must be applied. That word which comes from another axiom, is “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” The key word here is “believe”. Is what you think or want to achieve, believable?
As I was growing up, like many young people, I thought about becoming a fireman, cowboy, doctor, president and all the other careers kids think about. But there were a few careers that really stood out. For me there were four life goals I really wanted to achieve or was fascinated with: something on radio/TV/movies, a police officer/detective, and/or something with the strange and mysterious stuff out there.
These things always had my attention. I had more than idle curiosity about them. I pretended to be doing them. As I got older, I bought or borrowed dozens of books on the subjects. When I got old enough to drive, I would visit radio stations and have them show me around. TV stations were not so open to this, but I did get to talk to local TV personalities. In college I majored in Police Science. I visited police departments on my own. I talked my way into riding with some officers on patrol at night, and not handcuffed in the back seat. I talked my way into an all police training class for CEUs in which I was the only civilian there. Later I did become a police officer, constable and private detective. At the same time I continued my deep interest in hypnosis, reading and studying all I could on this mysterious and wonderful subject. Still at the same time I decided I had an ego to be on the air. I was always looking for a way to make it happen somehow. Eventually I got a gig to be in a commercial. Eventually I got to be on air live for 13 years on the country’s largest cable shopping network as a product demonstrator. And now (but not finally) after deciding to make some changes, I became a certified hypnotherapist.
Why I am telling you this, is not to brag, but to illustrate a point. I believed I could do all these things. The things I chose were truly possible to me. There were moments in my life I knew some things I would not be doing. It might be fun to ride a racehorse, but at about age 8, my body size proved that to be out of the picture. So to some extent, honest thinking has to part of this self-development process. And this is essential for any change. To be honest about what you want to do. And then decide to think about it. And this can work for almost anything. To lose weight, you don’t think and say to yourself, “I am thin.” Not if you are obviously a number of pounds overweight, but rather you think, “I can become thinner”, and then begin to see the change. Imagine a short-term and a long-term image. Let it become a reasonable obsession to take you to the weight just right for you. But do it with caution, as we know of too many who take it to the extreme and become anorexic.
As I was growing up I was what most would call an average or slightly below average student. I was not expected to go to college. And this was probably the only negative thing I heard about me in my household. No real high academic expectations. And in my own way I believed it. But one day that changed. After a number of years of poor academics in college, I decided I not only wanted to graduate from a junior college, I wanted a four-year degree. It is what I thought about. Once I knew it could be done, I moved in that direction. After I received my two-year degree, in just a year and a half later, I earned my four-year degree.
Now to be honest, this happened because of a fourth belief I had. I didn’t forget that I said I had four things I really thought about in my life. I wanted that right person in my life to share it with me. And, honestly to find just that right person I had to become the kind of person who would be worthy of that person. Although I am far from perfect, I found the perfect person for me.
You see, there are so many ways to think. If you think and believe only trash, you live a life of trash. If you think, but never take action, you are no better off because little or nothing of what you want will ever happen. But there is tremendous value in saying, “You become what you think about” as a reminder to focus your thinking and then take action. I can only suggest that you find worthy things to think about and let yourself become ever so slightly wonderfully obsessive. Then let it guide your actions to help you create the life you really want and the person inside you want to become.