A wise thing to remember when it comes to our thoughts and actions is that although we have little control over how we feel intrinsically, we can control what we do about those feelings. In that, we have absolute authority over our behavior and the way that we react to those emotions, and although our subsequent actions may not always feel to be under our control, they are. Better thoughts for better behavior will come with practice.
As with most things, this concept certainly more often than not falls under the category of “easier said than done.” Easier said, yes, but not impossible to do. People vary widely in their natural inclinations in terms of behavior and impulse control, in that some of us are more energetic and passionate, and others are easier going about their thoughts and tendencies.
Either way, our thoughts, and emotions can get the best of us at times, and almost always react out of emotionally inflammatory “heat of the moment” type duress. The result is regretting our actions.
When considering better thoughts for better behavior, which is a discussion that has been thoroughly explored by psychiatrists, philosophers, and poets alike and whose quotes on the topic have provided much insight on the subject.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato was once quoted, saying wisely that “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” It is the “knowledge” factor in human behavior that more often than not that has the most potential to result in wise decisions, and although the elements of “desire” and “emotion” of which he spoke often lead to impulsive, not well thought out decisions. This is not absolute; not all decisions derived from desire and emotion lead to bad choices. It just depends on if you are in control of your feelings or your emotions control you.
The American poet Emily Dickinson, who was relatively reclusive and whose work was often dark and melancholy, wrote that “Behavior is what a man does, not what he thinks, feels, or believes.” The insight that can be inferred from this quote is that we should no more take credit for our “good” thoughts than we should admonish ourselves for our “bad” ideas, but instead, it is the choices and decisions that we consciously make in response to those thoughts and emotions that matter most.
The French poet and playwright Moliere had an interesting, albeit pacifying thought on human behavior when he stated that “A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.” From this quote can be derived the sage advice of not falling victim to one’s “hot-headed” tendencies, but instead rising above and mastering control over one’s impulsivity is not only possible but desirable.
And lastly, the contemporary (and often controversial) American author Tucker Max had a surprisingly mature and intellectually cognitive take on psychoanalysis when he said that “The point of psychoanalysis is to understand the roots of your behavior. Understand why you’re doing what you’re doing – and connect your unconscious to your conscious.”
The advice that can be derived from this statement is that to master one’s behavior and actions, one need’s first to have a deep and profound understanding of their inner tendencies, and once a person knows themselves thoroughly, the better chance one has of controlling their behavior.
Thinking before acting is always the better path, no matter how difficult it may be in any given situation. It will take discipline when we are faced with problematic choices and decisions when emotions are high.
As unrealistic as it may be to think that every person could make informed and well thought out decisions at every juncture, every effort made to encourage that type of thinking will undoubtedly always result in wiser and more prudent actions. Better thoughts for better behavior.