“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
The above quote has been stated and restated and rephrased by many different people over time. If you Google the first line over 38,000,000 results appear. I must have heard it, read it, watched it on a YouTube video hundreds of times in my life, but today as I listened to an audio program I finally understand how it works.
Your beliefs become your thoughts.
I always mistook that your beliefs meant your values, but notice how values come later in the phrase.
Belief is first. What is the belief then? What I learned today is that belief comes from an activity. Your belief is the story you tell yourself about the thing that just happened. Here’s a story I could tell myself . . .
My neighbor forgot to take out the trash – again – and a week later the bin is overflowing and I am angry with my neighbor because they are lazy and forgetful and I wish they would move so I could have a better neighbor.
My belief, in this example is that my neighbor is lazy and forgetful. Now, if I follow the formula in the passage above, because my belief is negative, all of my thoughts regarding my neighbor are negative. My words to them become negative, I mistreat them and now they dislike me for being a mean person and my destiny is that I am disliked by all of my neighbors for my behavior. I am miserable and continue to wish that all of my neighbors would move away.
Here’s the kicker . . . what is reality? Is my neighbor really lazy and forgetful? No. How could I possibly know that? So, why would I believe it to be true? The only truth is that I allowed myself to downward spiral because of the story I told myself. My negative thoughts created hurt and suffering. So, who has the problem, my neighbor or me? Let’s retell the story.
p.s. this story is purely fictional. I am in fact more likely to forget to take the trash to the curb than any of my neighbors.
Step aside from all thinking, and there is nowhere you can’t go. ~ Seng-ts’an (the Third Founding Teacher of Zen)