HOW TO TRAIN OUR THOUGHTS

THOUGHT is the first step in all activity, i.e., we cannot do anything without first thinking about it, either voluntarily or involuntarily; and all thought is under our control, for we control involuntary thought by directing the habits, inclinations, temperament, etc., which in turn direct the action. Having cultivated more or less determination to strive earnestly for better things, it is easy enough with most of us to command our voluntary thoughts, and therefore to avoid doing the things that are commonly looked upon as wrong; but it is the much more important involuntary thoughts that need attention; for we are judged by the acts that we do in emergencies,—spontaneously, on the spur of the moment, when there is no time to think out a program. That which one does under stress of unexpected conditions is taken by people generally to be a display of his real character; as, when one is under some unusual influence or strain that seems to take him out of what commonly passes for his true self, it is popularly said to be "the real man showing himself."

Whenever the subject of judging another—the necessity of manifesting a spirit of broad charity at all times, in short, of loving our neighbor—comes up for discussion, we may argue—and sincerely, too—for the loftiest idealism, and perhaps cause our listeners to think, "What a good man he is to think of others so kindly!" But imagine the effect on one of these onlookers if he should hear us reply angrily to an impatient exclamation from an overworked and harassed street car conductor, or abuse a telephone operator! What would he think if he heard us burst out in criticism of public or private individuals on account of some suddenly manifested injustice? Thus it is that all the effect of our carefully expressed idealism is swept away by our failure to practise what we preach. That old school precept, "Actions speak louder than words," rises up to confound us.

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SCIENTIFIC PROGRESSION
July 25, 1908
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