We are What We Do and What We Think About

we are what we do

By Troy Headrick

It’s funny the things that inspire me, that trigger an idea that then turns into a piece of writing or a work of art.

A couple of days ago, I saw a series of photographs of Donald Trump, America’s pathetic president, playing golf about the same time the nation was expecting its 100,000th death due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That got me thinking about priorities and how we signal, in verbal and nonverbal ways, to ourselves and to those who are paying attention to our behavior, who we are and what we value.

The things we do, the ways we spend our time, the things that occupy our minds say a lot about us.  They define who we are.  They make us an open book that anyone can read.  We need to remember that if we want to be a certain type of person, we must do things that such a person would do and think the kind of thoughts such a person would think.

For example, if I want to be a kind person—if I see myself as kind and want others to see me that way too—then I can’t spend my time committing acts of cruelty, nor can I hold lots of sadistic thoughts in my head.  If I commit acts of cruelty and think unkind thoughts, I become the sum of my actions and thoughts.  In other words, one is defined by how one acts and on what one thinks.

America’s disingenuous occupant of the White House sees himself as being a great decision-maker and very intelligent—he has even referred to himself as a “very stable genius”—but he makes catastrophically bad choices and acts dumb a lot.  Just because he fancies himself a certain kind of person does not make him that sort.  His actions define him.  The reason he is laughed at and despised is because his claims of being judicious and wise aren’t borne out by what we see him doing.  When there is an incongruence between a person’s self-concept and his or her behavior, the individual is seen to be disingenuous or delusional.  Moreover, the things that occupy our minds will manifest themselves in lots of different ways that become apparent to observers.  Our thoughts influence our actions and our actions make us who we are.

I see that I started this by saying that I wanted to deal with priorities and prioritization, but then I started talking more about actions in general and less about which actions and thoughts take precedence in our lives.

We are all busy.  This means we have only so much we can do, and we all know this.  Thus, the things we habitually do first and spend most of our time on play a disproportion role in shaping who we are.  If I see myself as an artist, then I will do lots of art and the doing of art will occupy my mind.  (Of course, the world might intervene and not provide me with time to do art.)  If such a thing happens, I will grow frustrated, but by hook or by crook, I will find a way to do the thing that provides me with meaning even if I have to sleep less so that I can fit it in.

If I call myself an artist but never do art, people will laugh at me or call me dishonest or misguided.  I would be living a lie and everyone would know it.  Eventually, if I continue not doing art, my skill in that area will wholly atrophy.  There are lots of things I can longer do that I once could.  Those skills and interests I’ve lost no longer have significance or play any role in my life.  In other words, I am not the same person I used to be.  I have changed.  Change is simply the word we use to mean moving from one state of being to another.

This means we have a lot of control over who we are.  To be a certain kind of person, one must simply start doing things that make us that way.  The more we prioritize actions and thoughts that create and reinforce our self-image, the more integrity and coherence we will have and the happier we will be.

I look forward to your comments.

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.


42 thoughts on “We are What We Do and What We Think About

    1. Loved it. A lot of things related to your statements, a theme with many edges, but I agree. The first problem comes with us divorcing from our true self to follow external demands. How can I be consequent with something I am not, with this person I became but I don’t feel identified with? First there must be acceptance of who we are and then act with coherence and do what we want to make that person grow. As you brilliantly said “(…)prioritize actions and thoughts that create and reinforce our self-image(…)” OUR self image, not the pleasing one. I did enjoy reading this one.

      1. Yes! The pressure to conform to others’ expectations often ends up forcing us into all sorts of contortions. Thank you so much, D Doc’s Diary. I really appreciate the wisdom you’ve shared.

    1. I am a very political person, so I sometimes jump up on my soapbox! I see it this way: If what’s happening in politics (at the national/federal level) isn’t upsetting you, then you’re not paying attention. I believe that we have to be tolerant people; however, we cannot and must not tolerate intolerance. Thanks for the comment!

  1. Great article. Thank you for sharing. I loved it.

    It reminds me the differences between saying and doing. And that of hearing and listening.

    The word consistence originated from Latin and comprises of two words combined: con (meaning -together) and sis(meaning – stand).

    So for us to be consistent, what we say and what we do must standtogether.

    This is also how we do justice for ourself and that of others. Why?

    Because one can only do justice when his head and heart are one – meaning are in harmony, not when they rebeling each other.

    Best regards


    1. Cool! I love your comment. It’s the perfect companion for my piece. By the way, do you blog? If so, why not post a link to your site so that I (and others) might check out your writing?

      1. Sadly I do not blog.

        Althought I have been encouraged to blog, I have yet to start one.

        However, I like to contribute my comments to the articles that attract my attention which are featured on the blogs that I follow.

        In this blog, I read yours and that of Betul – whose articles I also like.

        This is my first comment on your blog, but expect more in the future as I will be reading your posts.

        Best wishes and keep on blogging.


  2. For this reason I quite like coming across as a nobody where I can. It’s always comforting when even those who hate your guts can’t help but recognise what sort of person you are. Like it’s one thing to say that you’re a man of your word, it’s another when even your enemies make the assumption that you’re a man of your word when they plot to kill you.

    1. I think I’ve heard that same thing! Wow! I think you’ve given me an idea for my next blog. I really appreciate the inspiration. And, by the way, I totally agree that we need to be very careful in the company we keep.

  3. We are who we are in our hearts, what does it say about our hearts that we will go to any length to continue to do that thing which we believe gives our life meaning and defines who we are. I know I wrecked many relationships following my own selfish ambitions pursuing that which I believed gave my life meaning and purpose. How do we react with this belief when something or someone impacts on our time, again I know I was not a nice person to be around.

    Just because we have lost something which we believe defines us, does that make us a different person, have we really changed, not really, that is till we are at peace with the loss and no longer searching for the next thing to fill the void, we are who we are in our hearts.

    1. Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment, IanWilliamGould! We have all gone through difficult times and wished we’d done things differently. I truly appreciate that you have shared your story and participated in this interesting and enlightening conversation.

  4. Good post. I think we have to be as authentic as we can be. I’d like to think about work less but I must clearly value work and see it as a large part of my identity because doing it or thinking about it probably take up 80% of my time.

    1. Yes, I totally agree! Authenticity is so important. It seems that we spend so much time wearing “masks” and doing what we have to do or what others want us to do. I really appreciate your comment.

      1. There is a theory that life is a stage and we perform each act depending upon the people and situation we’re in. Makes me wonder if I’m real 😂

  5. With that said, i’m going to put my phone down and go play some music so I can still call myself some sort of “musician”. 😁

    1. Hey, sudrakarma, I checked out your blog and liked what I saw. In fact, I became a follower. I look forward to seeing more of your posts. Take care and keep on keeping on, brother.

    1. Thanks for the link. I’ll have to check our Smith’s version. I do know Shelley’s piece, but it’s been years since I read it. Time to have another look…

    1. Cool. I’ll have to check out Early Nightingale and his saying, but it says (better than I was able to) what I was trying to get at. Take care and thanks for the wonderful comment.

  6. Sleep 💤 on it. Let your mind rest. Before you sleep 🛏 think of all you are grateful for. Sometimes your creativeness for your art 🖼 can arrive as a dream. You want to do good things. That is the beginning of your journey. Take a step, any step. Keep moving forward. Best wishes

  7. I’ve always been a believer in actions speak louder than words. In many instances I prefer not to talk about myself or my plans until I actually do them. I’ve always erred on the side of letting people see who I am rather than telling them, because I am confident in my actions aligning with who I am and want to be. After all, there’s nothing wrong with being whatever you are, it’s just a problem when you say one thing and do another 🙂 Great post commenting on the topic of becoming who we want to be!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I like that you let your actions speak for you and mostly stay silent. We’ve all known folks who talk big but don’t walk big or who seem to be confused about the sort of person they want to be. One of those commenting on my piece talked about the importance of having consistency in our words and deeds and discussed the etymological roots of “consistent.” (If you are interested and get a chance, you should read back through the comments and find the one I’m referring to because it’s really cool.) Again, thanks for contributing to this discussion.

  8. To trust in Jesus with all my cares. That he is more than able to keep all things for me. The world is full of evil and people that do not know their true identity. Therefore they believe lies about themselves and others. We must be truth seekers. Just because we believe something it does not always mean it is true. I pray peace for us and that we would have gracious hearts filled with humility.

    Peace and joy to you Tom

  9. >>we have a lot of control over who we are<<

    This I think is fundamentally false Troy.
    If we accept a physicalist view of the world, then it is false!
    Now, in what sense do we control the chemistry and physics that go on in our brains?

    If we are not physicalists how do our minds control the chemistry and physics that goes on in our brains? How do our brains impart information to our minds that are doing the supposed controlling?

    Your statement throws more questions than it can answer.

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