November 7      

Today's quotation:

Character isn't inherited.  One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action.  If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.

Helen Gahagan Douglas

Today's Meditation:

Sometimes it's kind of scary to think that character is our own responsibility, that the people we are, are the people we've been developing ourselves to be, "thought by thought, action by action."  It's okay if I'm a kind and compassionate person all the time, someone whose character is predominantly positive, helpful, and uplifting.  But if there are flaws in my character, moments of anger and jealousy and such, then that is something that I've built, and that's not such a positive idea.

Of course, it could be that those flaws are just what we need to grow and develop and become kinder and compassionate people.  Perhaps those times when we let fear take over are the times we need to learn something important from making a huge mistake that was fear-driven.  Perhaps that anger that we feel is a way that our spirits have contrived to expose a deep-seated flaw that truly needs to be dealt with.

I know what kind of character I would like to have, but I'm not at all sure what it takes to develop that kind of character.  I do my best to do so, but how am I doing?  The simple answer to that question is that I don't know.  I can only keep on keeping on, keep on doing what I think is best for developing myself into a character that shows the characteristics that I truly value in human beings.

My character is up to me, of course.  I can't blame the ways I act and the things I do on others, for it's all on me.  It's important that I learn how to serve others without thought of recompense, that I share my resources with others, and that I treat others with kindness and compassion all the time, or else I'm not being anything similar to the person I would hope to be.  The choice is always up to me-- it's up to me today, and it will be up to me tomorrow.

Questions to consider:

If character is a choice, how do we go about choosing?

What would life be like if we simply forgot about developing character and left everything to chance?

What kinds of decisions do we have to make if we're to develop characters that we're satisfied with and proud of?

For further thought:

Every event offers us a blank canvas upon which we paint with the brush of humility or arrogance; modesty or pride; service or self-aggrandizement.  If we seek praise and position, we shall crash.  If we seek character and service, we shall soar.  Even if you do not have a highway named after you or you are not awarded the coveted job or prize, you will be at peace with yourself and your soul will be satisfied.

Alan Cohen
The Tao Made Easy

more thoughts and ideas on character



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