“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 5.16
Your body will be shaped by whatever repetitive tasks you do. Sitting at a desk all day will cause a very specific set of effects on your posture and back. Lifting heavy boxes or holding large tools will cause your muscles to grow in particular areas. Waiting tables will cause you to become aerobically fit with strong legs, from walking many restaurant miles each day.
In the same way, your mind will be shaped by whatever repetitive thoughts you put into it. This is the wisdom from today’s chapter of The Daily Stoic book. You are what you think.
If you are constantly thinking negative things, then guess what… your mind will actually become negative over time. If you expect the worst from everyone, then you’ll soon find that your fears are indeed realized when everyone seems to fulfill your expectations.
Whatever you “hold in thought” will determine the shape of your mind. That’s why people like my mother refuse to fill their minds with terrible thoughts. As a kid, I used to tease her when she refused to watch violent movies or watch upsetting news stories on TV. “But this is real life,” I would tell her, “you can’t hide from it!”
She wasn’t hiding. She just intuitively understood that to fill your mind with poison is to make your mind poison. She realized her psyche would begin to be colored by negativity if she wasn’t careful about what she put into it. Funny how our parents ended up being wiser than we realized at the time.
Conversely, if you choose to shut out the negative and instead fill your thoughts with positivity, you’ll start to reap the benefits. An open mind is a beautiful thing, and becomes beautiful by association. After all, you are what you think.