Friday, December 30, 2005

Character Counts: It's all in your Mind

Michael Josephson, founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, is one of my heroes. His seminars on ethics are taught worldwide, to individuals and corporations, in the attempt to make us all aware that actions based on positive values and good morals will produce as profitable a result, or better, as lying, cheating, and stealing. It all starts with the intent of the mind.

For my New Year's resolution, I will try to pay more attention to my thoughts. Josephson's daily radio commentaries included this recent one:

"Watch your thoughts because they lead to attitudes;
Watch your attitudes because they lead to words;
Watch your words because they lead to actions;
Watch your actions because they lead to habits;
Watch your habits because they lead to character;
Watch your character because it determines your destiny.

These words not only warn us that badly chosen attitudes, words and actions can darken our future; they also tell us that we can improve every aspect of our lives by asserting conscious control of what we think, say and do. The point is worth emphasizing in a society where so many people suffer from victimitis, a mental disease that produces a self-fulfilling sense of powerlessness. The disease is not confined to the weak and cowardly; it often strikes down strong men and women by disabling their will to resist the spirit-draining impact of personal tragedies.

The primary symptoms of victimitis are hopelessness and helplessness indicated by continual complaints, protests and accusations about what has been done to us. People with victimitis are consumed by a "why me?" attitude and the notion that they are pawns in someone else's chess game.

Powerful emotions like grief, fear, insecurity, anger and frustration are to some extent unavoidable, but they are not insurmountable. Unless we muster the untapped power in all of us to choose our way out of any mental prison, we allow the chains of depression to rob us of our future.

The more helpless we feel, the more important it is to help ourselves. We must understand the difference between acceptance and surrender, and exert the moral courage to choose attitudes and take actions that will make things better. Once we reclaim our power to make things better, happiness becomes possible.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts."


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