“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” -Buddah
Although it’s been coined in different ways by different people throughout the ages, the message is the same. We are what we think. We become what we think. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. A man is what he thinks about all day long.
The first step I took in personal development was fully recognizing the significance of these aforementioned words. It’s not enough to read them or understand the base meaning of them. You need to get meta. Their power is contained in reflection. ‘We are what we think’ implies that you have a degree of control over what you think about, and how you think about things. You must look at your thoughts as if they are not you. They have been following you your whole life, attached to the proper name that you are: Michael. All those thoughts that follow you are not you.
You can change what you think about by changing your actions. We are a product of our environment. This means our thoughts are influenced by the things we are surrounded with, be it the geography, the people, the culture, the religion, the media, the education, etc.
Changing your thoughts means exposing yourself to new knowledge, new experience, new environments. One of the first and best ways I came across for exposing myself to this knowledge was through books. Books offer insights that men took a lifetime to glean from their life experiences. In many cases, the collective lifetimes of several men. They contain gems of knowledge.
I recently took to reading some of the best Literature and Philosophy that has ever been written. These books have inspired genius, started cultural revolutions, and elevated the consciousness of men since their inception. Here are some works that immediately come to mind:
- The Brothers Karamazov
- East of Eden
- Brave New World
- The Picture of Dorian Gray
- The Fall
- Walking on Water
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed
- Genealogy of Morals
- The Will to Believe
- Nichomachean Ethics
- Self Reliance
- Civilization and It’s Discontents
- Plato’s Five Dialogues
- Meditations on First Philosophy
- An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
- An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
- Truth and Lies in the Non-Moral Sense
- The Gay Science
- Philosophical Investigations
- The Social Contract
- In Defense of Anarchism
- On Liberty
- Man’s Search for Meaning
I admit, I feel a bit of shame for not including more. This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I’ll have to supplement, revise and refine this list later.