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Viewpoint: Think before you act, speak, tweet

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“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

This maxim, often attributed to American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, raises the question: “When, if ever, have we conducted a thought check, and why is it so important?”

As a result of truncated thoughtfulness, we are seeing an increase in prominent leaders making clarifications or retractions because of poorly stated off-the-cuff comments. It also hampers the action and character needed for making progress.

Here are some thought checks to consider:

  • When did an inspiring thought last energize you? Why was it moving? How lasting were its effects?
  • Have there been thoughts you visit repeatedly to guide you through life? From where did they emanate: a spouse, a book, a teacher, a friend, a movie? Or did they come while you were at church or just while you were musing?
“Her name is Contemplation of Justice, showing that justice requires meticulous thoughtfulness.”  (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

“Her name is Contemplation of Justice, showing that justice requires meticulous thoughtfulness.” (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

American essayist and poet Henry David Thoreau said, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

What thoughts most direct your life?

A quote sometimes attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle reads: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

How often have you rejected certain thoughts or chose one thought over another? How discerning are you on a regular basis?

Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba stated, “All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter.” How many memorable thoughts have led to desired outcomes? What in them moved you into action?

On the front steps of the Supreme Court sits a woman holding a blindfolded figure of justice and leaning on a book of laws. Her name is Contemplation of Justice, showing that justice requires meticulous thoughtfulness.

Life is filled with innumerable thoughts that take us in untold directions. When last have you eluded distractions, gone deeply within yourself and assiduously focused your thoughts?

Thoughtfulness is the golden key for creating character and our destiny.

Father Hemrick writes for Catholic News Service.

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