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Thoughts have been my greatest nemesis my entire life long.  Not all thoughts, just those that make me feel miserable, those with which I would torment myself for long periods of time.  Often they'd result from my own actions--I'd do something or say something I regretted, and I would spend hours or days feeling miserable as my mind went over all the possible negative repercussions for doing what I had done.

Say, for example, that I said something that offended someone else, and that person let me know that he or she was offended.  In my mind, that person was extremely angry with me, and wouldn't want to have anything to do with me any more.  Furthermore, my thoughts would take me to other scenarios that were even worse--that person would tell others what a jerk I was for having said something, and other people would look at me more judgmentally and wouldn't want to be around me anymore.

Or say a friend called to cancel something we had planned to do.  In my mind, it wasn't just a cancellation; it was a reflection of what that person felt about me.  He or she had heard something about me and didn't want to be around me any more, or they had originally agreed to do something with me just to make me feel good, so as not to insult me or hurt me.  But when it came time to doing something with me, they really didn't want to go through with it.  There were other, more interesting people around to do things with.

Or say a friend didn't show up at all--that was the worst, for then I'd have plenty of ammunition with which to make myself miserable.  I'd start going through all of the possible negative explanations in my mind, always looking at the action as a reflection on me, not on the friend.  Any harsh word from a friend or family member led me to think that things were over between me and that person, that that person wanted to have nothing to do with me any more.  Even now, there are times when my wife says something to me and I start to think that she's fed up with me and doesn't want to have anything to do with me any more.

These are, of course, ridiculous thoughts, and I'd even recognize that while I was having them.  I've found the origin, I believe--they come from a mixture of having an alcoholic father and moving around constantly.  With an alcoholic parent, love always seems to be conditional, if there at all, and the children often feel they have to prove themselves.  Mistakes are often treated much more harshly than the situation demands.  Being in a military family, I changed schools eight times in twelve years, and I never had a chance to develop any sort of long-term friendships, so I never experienced any sort of behavior involved in such a relationship--never saw the forgiveness or the tolerance or the getting-back-together.  To me, everything always just ended, and I've carried the fear of that with me my whole life long.  I also grew up without any sort of church, any sort of faith-fostering, and I never had the chance to experience or witness the strength that a deep faith can give us.

But recognizing the source doesn't make one feel better when one's beating oneself up over something that truly doesn't deserve as much attention as it's getting.  Sometimes I can't believe all of the hypothetical situations I dreamed up to make myself feel horrible, when the very nest day things were fine, and I had just lost an entire day or evening to feeling miserable.  I feel fortunate that I've broken the pattern, even if it does return now and then.  When those thoughts return now, I can usually deal with them rather quickly, and there's little chance that they can trigger depression as they used to.

The fears I grew up with are still in there, but I choose to view them as what they are:  negative thoughts that mean nothing.  I don't fool myself into thinking that they can't come back just as or even more strongly, and I pay attention to them, just in case.  But now I know them, and I can recognize them sooner.  I'll never be a person who can function well in a crowd of complete strangers, but that's who I am.  At least now, I know that I can't function well in such a group because that's who I am, part of my nature; I no longer fear the people because they probably won't like me or because they'll judge me harshly.  I want to get the most out of life, and allowing such thoughts to control how I feel will make me miserable, not happy.  I know this from experience.



I am an old man and have known a great many troubles,
but most of them have never happened.

Mark Twain


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Our great misfortune is that we have no organ,
no kind of eyelid or brake, to mask or block a
thought, or all thought, when we want to.

Paul Valery
Anger and worry are the enemies of clear thought.

Madeleine Brent

The glow of one warm thought is, to me, worth more than money.

Thomas Jefferson


The quality of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. . .
take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable
to virtue and reasonable nature.

Marcus Aurelius

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell,
a hell of heaven.

John Milton

Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what
he or she thinks into it.

Ernest Holmes

People are what they think about all day long.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Unhappiness indicates wrong thinking,
just as ill health indicates a bad regimen.

Paul Bourge


The greatest discovery of my generation is that people can alter
their lives simply by altering their attitude of mind.

William James


Don Juan assured me that in order to accomplish the feat of making
myself miserable I had to work in the most intense fashion, and that
it was absurd.  I had now realized I could work just the same in making
myself complete and strong.  "The trick is in what one emphasizes,"
he said.  "We either make ourselves miserable, or we make
ourselves strong.  The amount of work is the same."

Carlos Castaneda


Drag your thoughts away from your troubles--by the ear, by the heels,
or any other way you can manage it.  It's the healthiest thing a body can do.

Mark Twain


The biggest quality in successful people I think is an impatience with negative thinking. . . .
How many opportunities come along?  If you wait for the right one, that's wrong,
because it may never be right, and what have you got to lose?  Even if it's a disaster,
you've tried, you've learned something, you've had an adventure.
And that doesn't mean you can't do it again.

Edward McCabe


When you are offended or annoyed by others, do not allow your thoughts to dwell on them
or on anything relating to them.  For example, don't think that they ought not
to have treated you so, being who they are, or whom they think themselves to be,
or the like.  All this is fuel and kindling of wrath, anger, and hatred.

Lorenzo Scupoli


Nothing erases unpleasant thoughts more effectively
than conscious concentration on pleasant ones.

Hans Selye


The sea reflects the sun perfectly if the water is still.  But if it is agitated
by the wind the light fragments into a million mirrored suns.  It is like this
with the mind.  If the mind is disturbed by thoughts, the Light of Oneness
is fragmented and we perceive only the manyness of things.  When thoughts
are still, however, the One Light is perfectly reflected in the mind.

Issa Das


There is no physician like cheerful thought for dissipating the ills of the body;
there is no comforter to compare with good will for dispersing the shadows
of grief and sorrow.  To live continually in thoughts of ill will, cynicism, suspicion,
and envy, is to be confined in a self-made prison hole.  But to think well of all,
to be cheerful with all, to patiently learn to find the good in all—such unselfish
thoughts are the very portals of happiness; and to dwell day by day in thoughts
of peace toward every creature will bring abounding peace to their possessor.

James Allen


When I think of my past, I try to dwell on the good times, the happy moments,
and not to be haunted by the bad. . .  To me the gift of life is contained
in the command, whatever happens:  “Don’t let it get you.  Just keep on going.”
Thus, I try to think of the good that I have already experienced
and what will still be coming.

Rose Kennedy



Unfortunately, spending time alone with one’s own thoughts
creates anxiety for many people and accounts for much escapist
activity.  Learn to listen to your own thoughts.  This will help you
learn more about your inner self and your real goals.  Spend some
time alone each day familiarizing yourself with your thoughts.  You can
do this while walking outdoors or relaxing at home, in a church,
synagogue, or mosque, or even in the public library.  This solitude
will provide you with an opportunity to clarify and become
comfortable with your feelings and thoughts and to assess
the strategies for reaching your objectives.

Ari Kiev

To be healthy, wealthy, happy and successful in any and all areas
of your life you need to be aware that you need to think healthy,
wealthy, happy and successful thoughts twenty-four hours a day
and cancel all negative, destructive, fearful and unhappy thoughts.
These two types of thought cannot coexist if you want to share
in the abundance that surrounds us all.

Sidney Madwed

A well-kept garden filled with flowers
Has no room left for weeds to share;
The mind keeps out unworthy thoughts
When loveliness is dwelling there.

Leona Bold Martin


Some of your hurts you have cured
And the sharpest you've even survived,
But what torments of grief you've endured
From evils which never arrived.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


No sin is committed merely because a thought enters the mind,
provided it is not made welcome.  Perhaps we may use the figure
that the thought first passes into an anteroom, where it stands
before the mind acting as a judge.  No matter how sordid or evil,
it has not touched the personality with its infamy nor in any way
laid guilt upon the soul unless and until the mind acting as judge
admits it with a welcome.  If the mind decides against it and
dismisses it, the personality is not only unsullied but is, on the contrary,
by this act of rejection stimulated and strengthened in moral power.

Norman Vincent Peale



Judgments about ourselves or negative thoughts about
our future can cause depression.  Beware of thoughts that
revolve around the words "never" or "always."

Susan Santucci


Imagine your mind as a garden and thoughts as the seeds you plant.  Habitual negative,
unhealthy, self-critical thoughts produce the weeds and thistles of depression, discontent,
and anxiety in the garden of your mind.  Luckily, the opposite is also true.
Consistently planting positive, healthy, constructive thoughts will yield a crop
of beautiful feelings, such as gratitude, love, and joy.

Sue Patton Thoele


Keep your thoughts right--for as you think, so are you.
Thoughts are things; therefore, think only the things that
will make the world better and you unashamed.

Henry H. Buckley


All that we are is the result of what we have thought;
it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our
thoughts.  If one speaks or acts with an evil thought,
suffering follows him or her as a wheel follows the
hoof of the beast that draws the cart.

the Dhammapada


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Nurture great thoughts, for you will never go higher than your thoughts.

Benjamin Disraeli

The sad fact is that we're not educated to be aware and therefore able to
question the reality created by our thinking.  We don't realize that we must
take responsibility for our thoughts to find out if they are really true, and then
set aside or at least acknowledge those that are simply opinion and bias.  We
don't recognize that most thoughts are ultimately judgments, and that the truth
of any judgment is how that judgment makes us feel.

Richard Moss


It is not healthy to be thinking all the time.  Thinking is intended
for acquiring knowledge or applying it.  It is not essential living.

Ernest Wood

The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of
concentration on a single thought are the measures
to gauge spiritual growth.

Ramana Maharshi

Even as radio waves are picked up wherever a set is tuned in
to their wavelength, so the thoughts which each of us think each
moment of the day go forth into the world to influence
for good or bad each other human mind.

Christmas Humphreys


The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we
recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

Charles Darwin


There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you
are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you.  That criterion
is, Have they brought you inner peace?  If they have not,
there is something wrong with them--so keep trying.

Peace Pilgrim

I think of myself as generally happy, but every so often I’m struck by
a fleeting mood of unhappiness or anxiety that quickly escalates.  On
a really bad day, I may spend hours stuck in angst-ridden maunderings,
wondering if I need to make major changes in my life.  It’s usually then
that I realize I’ve forgotten to eat lunch.  One tuna sandwich later, the
mood is gone.  And yet, ‘Am I hungry?’ is never my first response to
feeling bad:  my brain, apparently, would prefer to distress itself with
reflections on the ultimate meaninglessness of human existence than
to direct my body to a nearby source of nourishment.

Oliver Burkeman 

Thoughts, like seeds, sprout and blossom according to their variety, and the thoughts you cultivate create your experiences of life.  Just as a seed planted in fertile soil produces healthy fruit, your mind may be lightened or darkened depending on the type of thoughts planted in it.  If apple seeds are planted and nurtured, you can harvest delicious, juicy apples.  If you plant and nurture thistle seeds, you get prickly thistles.  This analogy also holds true for the mind.  Positive thoughts can produce positive results, whereas negative thoughts can lead to negative results.  Understanding this cause and effect relationship can help you "think into being" the kind of life you wish to have.

John Marks Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life

Each of us is born with the freedom to choose the thoughts that direct our lives.  We may choose the path we want to walk and what we wish to carry along the way.  With this awareness in mind, would it not be preferable to choose thoughts that can form positive attitudes and emphasize our unlimited potential?  Negative thoughts and attitudes weigh us down and make our journey through life more difficult.

Thoughts are the pinions of the soul,
And carry far when they're set free.
And if they're good, great good they'll do
And benefit both you and me;
So we should gladly do our share
Of wonderful work and thinking, too;
And spread the thoughts of brotherhood--
Think thoughts that none have cause to rue.

Alonzo Newton Benn

What thoughts are so important that it is worth holding on to them
even when they make you miserable?  Why are you holding on?  You
are in charge of your thoughts and feelings.  If you are willing to
search for the reason that you can't let go of disturbing thoughts,
you can learn about yourself and restore your own peace of mind.

Bernie Siegel
Prescriptions for Living


There’s nothing wrong with our self-centered thoughts except that
when we identify with them, our view of reality is blocked.  So
what should we do when the thoughts come up?  We should label
the thoughts.  Be specific in your labeling:  not just “thinking,
thinking” or “worrying, worrying,” but a specific label.  For example:
“Having a thought she’s very bossy.”  “Having a thought that he’s
very unfair to me.”  “Having a thought that I never do anything right.”
Be specific.  And if the thoughts are tumbling out so fast that you 
can’t find anything except confusion, then just label the foggy mess
“confusion.”  But if you persist in trying to find a separate thought,
sooner or later you will.

Charlotte Joko Beck
Everyday Zen: Love and Work


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We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.

the Buddha

I learned that you don't have to be saddled for life with the mental attitudes
you adopted in early childhood.  All of us are free to change our minds,
and as we change our minds, our experiences will also change.

M.J. Ryan
Attitudes of Gratitude

The one thing that carries people furthest from their spiritual center
is negative thoughts.  Negative thoughts are unloving thoughts rooted
in the downward passions of anger, ego, attachment, greed, and lust.
They're false thoughts that are divorced from clear reality.  We're not
talking about pleasant fantasies and daydreams over which you have
control, but mental scenes and confrontations that are riding on your
back, yapping in your ear.  And try as you might, you can't shake them.
Negative thoughts are also just plain conversations and scenes,
unresolved from the past or anticipated for the future, that keep playing
over and over in your mind.  And try as you may, you can't change the
tune.  You're a captive audience to this broken record. . . .
   As you become more aware of your mind's tendency to rule you with
negative thoughts and scenes, don't go into a reaction mode and judge
them.  They're merely stuck, downward energy that await resolution.
And please, don't judge yourself.  You are where you are.  Always imbibe
self-love.  Furthermore, this doesn't mean that you identify with your
thoughts, even thought that's what most people do.  What you can do is
use your growing awareness to focus your spiritual power and reclaim the
bliss that your lower mind destroys or prevents you from having.

Michael Goddart

Would you remain always young, and would you carry all the joyousness
and buoyancy of youth into your maturer years?  Then have care concerning
but one thing, — how you live in your thought world.  It was the inspired one,
Gautama, the Buddha, who said, — "The mind is everything; what you think
you become."  And the same thing had Ruskin in mind when he said, — 
"Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts.  None of us as yet know, for
none of us have been taught in early youth, what fairy palaces we may build
of beautiful thought — proof against all adversity."  And would you have in
your body all the elasticity, all the strength, all the beauty of your younger
years?  Then live these in your mind, making no room for unclean thought,
and you will externalize them in your body.  In the degree that you keep young
in thought will you remain young in body.  And you will find that your body
will in turn aid your mind, for body helps mind the same as mind helps body.

Ralph Waldo Trine
The Collective Works of Ralph Waldo Trine


The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but
thought about it.  Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking.
Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral.
It is as it is.

Eckhart Tolle

Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts.  What good
does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future?
Remain in the simplicity of the present moment.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Mental activity and a healthy mental attitude have the most of all to
do with happiness.  The quality of the thought determines the quality
of the life.  We cannot get healthy thinking from a diseased brain or
nerve cells. If the vitality is below par, the life will drop to its level,
and the power to enjoy will respond. . . . We should early form the
habit of erasing from the mind all disagreeable, unhealthy, death-
dealing thoughts.  We should start out every morning with a clean
slate. We should blot out from our mental gallery all discordant
pictures, and replace them with the harmonious,
uplifting, life-giving ones.

Orison Swett Marden
The Joys of Living (1913)


Remember:  Who you are is how you think.  You become what you
think about.  As you think, so shall you be.  All of that is very
important to keep reminding yourself.

Wayne Dyer
Happiness Is the Way

Our habitual thoughts are just the same.  Repeating any thought,
whether it is a negative or a positive one, will make your body
respond as if that thought were true.  No matter what stance you
adopt, all your life circumstances will mirror your thoughts
and beliefs, thus creating your reality.

Bernie Siegel
No Endings, Only Beginnings

I realized that if my thoughts immediately affect my body, I should be
careful about what I think.  Now if I get angry, I ask myself why I feel
that way.  If I can find the source of my anger, I can turn that negative
energy into something positive.

Yoko Ono



Found online:

(Found online images come from a variety of unattributed
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When Walker first steps onto the road, he has no thoughts, no history, no memories, and no clothes. As he travels and meets people and learns from them, he comes to know more about life, living, and becoming the person he's meant to be. Walker is a parable for all of us who wonder what might be the purpose of life, why bad things happen with almost as much regularity as good things, and how we can learn from the bad examples and experiences in our lives as much as we can learn from the good things. Tom Walsh's parable is a story of the ages, a timeless exploration of ideas and thoughts that all of us wonder about, a sincere and heartfelt portrait of a man who has no past and no future, but who learns to make the most of each precious present moment as it comes.



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