In yoga last week my teacher drew attention to our thoughts. She said something along the lines of “our thoughts become our actions, our actions become our habits, our habits become our character, and our character determines our destiny.”

This related to my current research project that is looking at connections between narratives and peace (which I have been madly trying to finish for the last year, hence the lack of blogging…)

Our thoughts are made up of narratives. Because we live in time, we fundamentally understand our selves and the world through story.

These narratives might also be thought of as constructing our “worldview”—that is, these stories are fundamental to the way that we see the world.

Our stories impact on our values, which impacts our thoughts and our actions, which collectively bring about experiences of peace, conflict and violence throughout the world.

It is a rather long chain of connections, which makes it difficult to research and explain… but exploring these connections is important. It is by drawing these connections that we can consider how our actions can bring about the most desirable destiny.

I’ll share more about my research some other time. Here I want to focus on the words of my teacher. I figured she got them from somewhere, and Google pointed to two people: Lao Tzu and Margaret Thatcher (whaaaaat??!)

The original quote was (obviously) the former. Lao Tzu wrote:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

The Thatcher quote reads:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become.
My father always said that… and I think I am fine.”

Whether Thatcher actually said that, and whether her father informed her that these words are from ancient China, who knows…

Regardless, as we go about our day let us observe our thoughts, our words, our actions, our habits and our character, and see if we might bring about a more peaceful, just and sustainable destiny then the one Thatcher’s thoughts have worked to bring about.


Building bridges on Sydney Harbour. Taken by Jonny Gloss at Aqua Club on 8 Feb 2014.