As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a single pathway in the mind.
To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.......Henry David Thoreau
Though personal development isn't as simple as just changing one's thoughts, I like this quote because it reflects something that is fundamental….the importance of practice. Whether it’s piano scales, slap shots or French verb conjugation (Ugh!), people often have a negative relationship with practice. And really, it’s no wonder that many give up trying, especially when striving for the elusive perfection.
So perhaps the idea of practice in your life needs a little bit of a reframe, and I can’t help to think that the Eastern spiritual practices of yoga and meditation offer a great model to draw from. For these practices, it’s not so much about achieving something tangible, and more to do with showing up, being present, and just noticing one’s body, thoughts and emotions. You may have an intention in mind, like being more flexible or some sense of greater inner peace, but focusing on that alone is not what it’s about. It took me a while to better understand, but practice is more about the doing, the being in the now, and general awareness.
Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting you have to take up some kind of yoga or meditation practice to “get it”, not at all. You can start by just becoming better aware of the messages you tell yourself, whether it be in the work place, in your relationships, or even looking in the mirror.
Fall is a great time for self-reflection, and to begin taking footsteps towards the kind of thoughts and emotions you wish to guide your life.