Trains of Thought: which one are YOU riding?

Make sure you know what Train of Thought you are on so you know what the getting off points are.” ~Ravi Zacharias

The double entendre of this quote is what makes it so powerful and clear.  When we think of a train (or any transportation vehicle, substitute the one you prefer), we understand it’s to get from point A to point B.

03 Trainboarding

We need to ride so we will weigh our options for comfort and speed so as to maximize value given our resources (both time and money), and may even consider certain other style elements; after all, who doesn’t want to ride in style? In order to have all those things happen, especially arriving at your desired destination, you have to be intentional about it: you have to think, plan and then choose….intentionally. But of all those factors, ensuring we arrive at the desired destination is the most important.

Contrast the above about riding a train with how you or I think (yes, intentionally using 1st person language). Most of the time it is anything but intentional. The majority of the time we put no effort or intentionality to what we let dance around in our minds, dwell on, day-dream about or ruminate about. Rarely, if ever, do we consider what our “getting off points” are for our thoughts. For sure those with even with a modicum of “Get Stuff Done” factor must think intentionally about a few things and high achievers even more. However, it’s the other 90%+ of our thoughts that often put us in Wonderland or some other strange place because we fail to realize that for each of those, there is a “getting off” point.

The locations our thoughts take us include:  05 TracksCrossing

  •             How we feel
  •             What we do
  •             What we get
  •             What we become

The last of those is arguably the most important.  The ancients and others understood the importance and impact of our thoughts much more than we do.  The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place” which essentially summarizes in 1 sentence what it has taken me 3-4 paragraphs to say.  A more detailed, contextual reading of the often quoted bible passage “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) (link) reminds us that our thoughts can sometimes be complex and undermine our actions. It’s tough because thoughts can be intrusive, right?

Just like we can’t control which trains come down the tracks, we can’t control what thoughts come into our mind. Just like a train, what we can choose is which one(s) we will board and ride on. Martin Luther said it best (bird analogy here): “We can’t choose which birds fly above our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.”  How? Be aware…..Be intentional. Do you know what Trains of Thought you’re riding? If not, it is highly likely you will end up in a place you wouldn’t have intentionally chosen or won’t become what you want to be.  Worst case, you will end up becoming something you don’t want to be. Where do you want to go today? What do you want to be?