Amy Rees Anderson

Why We Do What We Do – From Exposure To Thoughts To Actions

Do you ever consider why we do the things we do? Why do we do the good things we do and/or why do we do the bad things we do?  The answer is simple – we do what we’ve thought about. And we think about what we’ve been exposed to.

What we surround ourselves with is what our minds take in. And once we’ve been exposed to something and taken it in, our minds have the capacity to think about any of these things at any time. So why do our thoughts matter? Because our thoughts are what drive both our feelings and our actions, so if our thoughts are positive and good and focused on becoming successful individuals in every aspect of our lives, then our actions will follow suit.

The most important thing we can do to control our thoughts is to control what we allow ourselves to be exposed to. Whether it’s being exposed to content in the books we read, or movies we watch, or television shows we view, or the establishments we enter, or the music we hear, or the pictures we see, or the conversations we engage in…all of these things, once we’ve allowed ourselves to be exposed to them, can quickly become the subject of our thoughts.

When we allow ourselves to be exposed to negative, destructive, or degrading things, we have opened the door to have these become the subject of our thoughts, which thoughts will lead us to do negative, destructive, degrading actions.

When we allow ourselves to be exposed to positive, uplifting things that will lead us to become successful people in every aspect of our lives, we have opened the door to have these become the subject of our thoughts, which thoughts will lead us to do positive, uplifting, successful actions.

Certainly, there are going to be times in life when we are exposed to something we didn’t choose to be, such as overhearing a negative conversation on the subway or seeing a negative image on a billboard etc. In the world we live in today these are bound to happen occasionally (yet we can limit even these by taking every precaution to proactively avoid them such as driving a different route when you find a negative billboard image etc), however, if we have done everything in our power to only expose ourselves to positive things and we are purposefully avoiding the negative things, then we ought to have an arsenal of positive thoughts we can immediately call upon to force out a negative one when it comes to mind from one of these unavoidable exposures.

If we want to be successful in every aspect of our lives then we have got to be willing to change our environment in order to ensure we are only exposing ourselves to the most positive: uplifting music, inspiring movies, motivational books, good conversations, wholesome activities, etc. A good environment breeds good thoughts.

“Thoughts lead to acts, acts lead to habits, habits leads to character – and our character will determine our eternal destiny.”  -Ezra Taft Benson

~Amy Rees Anderson

1 Comment

  • Heather Vogeley says:

    This ties in with an R.S. lesson I gave last Sunday about Virtue. Pres. Hinckley told a story about a building in downtown SLC that took seconds to implode, but took years to build. It made me think of Oliver Cowdry and I mentioned this, that he had so many incredible visions and experiences, but in the end he lost his right to be at J. Smith’s side, but did eventually return to the company of the saints. I related these stories before the section that discusses how pornography has invaded our world and how to avoid it and help those we love deal with any addictions. This is a comment on sister made (which threw me off guard): “But repentance makes us better than we were before.” After pondering on this comment, I have concluded (and I wish that I was able to relay this during my lesson): it is infinitely better to work hard at preventing sin, rather than having to overcome it the hard way by actually committing the sin and then picking up the pieces. Albeit, some have to learn the hard way for some things (like me).

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