These words from Benjamin Franklin remind me that what we put into our brains AND how we then use it reveals a great deal about us. He also reminds us that our actions determine who we become from how and what we have done with the information we absorb.
I was talking with a client who is a very profilings reader. When I asked what they were reading now they got very quiet then changed the subject. Later on in the conversation they mentioned that they read around two hundred books a year. Wow! I then asked again what they were reading now. Another silent pause. I then asked them what was preventing them from sharing their book list. Another silence. Then a heavy sigh, and they said they didn’t want me to judge them by the topics they read. Aha! The real conversation then began.
Our minds are like sponges. They absorb whatever we feed them and they do not distinguish between reality, fantasy and possibilities. What we read, think and do feeds everything about us. When we control our thoughts and the food we give them, we have the power to exert more control over our lives. That’s why when we get overwhelmed and our brains spinout of control it can feel like panic and fear have taken over. So what to do to change that? Benjamin Franklin suggests meditation, thinking and pondering what is really going on? Giving ourselves time to rattle through what is overwhelming us to the point where we find peace. Quiet time allows us to settle and digest. He then reminds us that discourse, talking allows us to then be clear. Sometimes we need to talk it out in order to hear ourselves thoroughly understand what is settling in our mind. Absorb (read), Think (meditate), Talk (discourse). All these actions help us be who we are, and allows us to be better than we are today.
So eventually my client and I had a great conversation about their book list. The topics had nothing to do with their profession, expertise or anything to do with their real life. Reading was their way to escape reality and relieve some of the pressure and responsibilities they experience every day. It sparked their imagination and held no judgement on who they are or what they believe, or how unhappy they are in their life. Our conversation then continued around why did they spend so much time escaping their world (over 200 books a year is a lot of reading)? They felt guilty about spending so much time away from all the elements of their life, so we then talked about that. They confessed that they would rather read than deal with changing their lives. Aha again. Another point to discuss. In the end, I shared this quote with them and they had an Aha moment. They absorbed and never processed anything behind their reading. They really do want to change their world – which is why they called me – hiding in a book had just become and easy escape. So they set up a plan to read, think, and talk about what interested them in their books with someone not in their lives – a book club or online group. Several months later they began tackling the things they wanted to change in their life AND changed the books they were reading. Still had fun books, and mingled in other books to help them deal with what needed to change.
Who knew that words spoken over two hundred and thirty years ago could help us today. Wisdom yes, tested wisdom even better, applicable to today, absolutely!