When I was in high school taking driver's education, I had a teacher that shared a driving tip that has stuck with me all these years. One that I have been able to apply to my life beyond driving. His tip was this, you steer where you stare. For example, if while you are driving you get distracted looking at something to your left, the car will start to veer to the left and it will veer right if you are looking to the right. So it is important to pay attention to where you are staring because it will be reflected in where you are steering. Just as this applies to driving, so it does for the thoughts we are thinking. It is important to pay attention to what you are thinking because it will be reflected in what you are doing and where you are going.
I once had a bishop who said, "Thoughts are normal and natural, just don't entertain them." He said this because he knew that our thoughts lead to our actions. That which we think, especially what we think of often, is that which we will do. Not only will we be more inclined to do what we think of, but we will also be what we think. Here are some quotes of inspiration on this point. "A person is what they think about all day long."-Ralph Waldo Emerson "We become what we think about."-Earl Nightingale
You see this principle in life all the time. Think about a person who is on a diet that is trying to resist eating the cookies on the kitchen counter. Their thoughts are full of the cookie; don't eat the cookie, stay away from the cookie, etc., etc. And yet they eventually eat the cookie. Why? Because their whole focus was on the cookie. Sure they were thinking not to touch the cookie, but they were still focused on the cookie, even if it was not to eat it. So they couldn't get it off their mind and they gave in to eating it. It wasn't what they really wanted but that is where there focus was, so that is what they ended up choosing.
Just as it is important to pay attention in driving so we steer correctly, so it is for our thinking. It is much more so because our thoughts are reflected in our very words, deeds, demeanor, and actions. Our thoughts are the drivers of our vehicles and they dictate the where, what, and how of our lives. What your focus is on is what you will get. If your focus is on what you don't want, that is what you will get even if you don't want it. This is because that is where all of your attention is.
If our thoughts are full of negativity is it any wonder that our lives are submerged in negativity. Like attracts like. But the great news is, just as it works for negative things, it also works for positive things as well. All it requires is for us to change the thoughts we are thinking to start changing the direction of our life. It's called a course correction. When you are driving a car and you realize you are not headed in the direction you want to go, you make a correction so that you are headed in the direction you desire. Yet somehow, in life we often feel stuck in the direction we are going, or we think that changing direction is somehow a failure and so we keep moving forward without excitement about where we are going.
I don't know about you, but knowing I can correct my course inspires me and gives me hope. There are many things in life that I honestly have no control over. I cannot control if my son will do what I ask, if my teenager will listen to me and take my advice, or if my husband will finish the honey do list I have given him. I cannot control these or many others things, but I can control what I decide to think, feel, and believe about these situations and others like them. I can decide what to think about an experience, how to feel about a person, or what to believe about the kind of day I am having. I am the driver of my thoughts and so I get to choose what to think, how I am going to feel, and what I am going to believe.
Contrary to what many may think, these things are a choice, however difficult they may seem. And I am the one who gets to choose them. For example; no one "made me angry", I chose to become angry. Our thoughts, our feelings, and what we believe is a choice. And just as where we stare is important and affects where we steer our car, what we think affects where we are going in life.
So take a moment and pay attention to where your thoughts are staring and see if it's really where you want to be steering your life.