You’ve heard it before and will almost certainly hear it again:  You are the creator of the world you inhabit.  You become what you think.  Every motivational video and podcast producer focused on self-improvement is probably going to whack you upside the head with that one.

Here’s an especially good one published in 2017 by Tom Bilyeu as part of his “Impact Quotes” series.

Bilyeu is an American entrepreneur, the co-founder of Quest Nutrition, maker of a best-selling protein bar.  He is also a powerful motivational speaker and life-trainer.


Every advocate for positive thinking and optimism and every feel-good therapist of every flavor, backed up by all the guys in lab coats who are into probing the secrets of our brains and other aspects of our lives, will haul out this old chestnut at some point.

Even the wise guys who aren’t telling us we’re a bunch of delusional creatures will tell you this.  They’ve built all kinds of thought-constructs that prove that it’s true.  You’ve gotta believe them.  They know, right?

My own favorite is American entrepreneur T. Harv Ecker’s take on the matter.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

Ecker has said,

Thoughts lead to feelings.

Feelings lead to actions. 

Actions lead to results.

Therefore, once you’re aware of the thought-to-feeling-to-action-to-results progression, you are in a position to change your thoughts.  This will lead you to new feelings and perspectives that will affect the actions you take and the moves you make.  Using this progression, you can get to the results you want…it says here.

Okay.  Fine.  Right.


I have to confess that I always get a bit squirmy and fidgety when I get yet another hit of this particular bit of nebulous wisdom that pushes me forward onto center stage as the “World-Creator.”

That sort of implies that the burden is on me to get my own world right.

The thing is, it seems to me that it would be a heck of a lot easier to get a handle on being a big-shot World-Creator if I could just figure out the answer to the Primal Question:


“Question Mark Block” by Jared Cherup via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
There are, of course, many opinions, positions and theories about how you can find the answer to that question.  There are all kinds of tools you can use to figure out “The Big HUH?”.  Every self-development book probably contains a dozen or so.

Many people have explored this question and returned from their journeys to explain and expound on the answers they found for themselves.  Some may even ring true for you.


At the start of the 20th century, University of Michigan professor and sociologist Charles Horton Cooley went against the trend of thought held by his fellow sociologists of the time.  They were firmly committed to considering the development of individuals and societies as separate processes.

“Charles Horton Cooley” by unknown photographer (1902 Michigansenian, page 8) via Wikimedia [Public Domain]
The classic utilitarian (and selfish) individualism of economics, which was promoted by the theories about the dynamics of social interaction held by other sociologists of his time, did not make sense to Cooley.

Cooley argued that society and the individuals in them were not phenomena that can be separated.   He said they were “different aspects of the same thing, for a separate individual is an abstraction unknown to experience, and so likewise is society when regarded as something separate from individuals.”

To Cooley, studying how people develop and behave separately from how a society operates was a lot like dissecting a frog in biology lab class.

“Frog” by Becca C via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
He said, “Our life is all one human whole, and if we are to have any real knowledge of it we must see it as such.  If we cut it up it dies in the process.”

Out of this way of thinking, Cooley developed the concept of the “looking glass self,” which has become known and accepted by most modern psychologists and sociologists.

Cooley’s theory expanded William James’s idea of the self having the capacity to reflect on its own behavior.

According to Cooley, we see ourselves as other people see us, as if reflected in a mirror.  People gain their identity and form their habits by looking at themselves through the perception of society and other people with whom they interact as well as by directly considering their own personal qualities, he says.

“Ask Answer Choice” by Rita M. via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Whether our beliefs about how other people see us are true or not, it is those beliefs that truly shape our ideas of ourselves.

The following YouTube video, “Charles Cooley Looking Glass Self | Individuals and Society” was published in 2015 by khanacademymedicine.  It gives a good, easy-to-understand explanation of Cooley’s theory.



Tom Bilyeu, who was featured in the first video, is also the host (as well as co-founder and CEO) of Impact Theory, an interview video series exploring the mindsets of the world’s highest achievers.

This next video, “I Am Not What I Think I Am,” was published in 2018 by Fearless Soul  and features life coach Jay Shetty in an interview with Bilyeu.  It presents one way to use Cooley’s “Looking Glass Self” theory to find the life-direction and path that holds the most meaning and mana for you.

Jay Shetty has been called “one of the most viewed people on the Internet internationally.”  Among other things he hosts his own daily show, “HuffPostLive#Follow the Reader.”

In the video, he points out that all of us “live in echo chambers.  We’re just surrounded by the same thinking.  We meet  people who are just like us most of the time.”

Shetty outlines three steps you can make to counter that condition:

  • Expose yourself to new experiences or role models.
  • Find the experiences or role models with the most meaning for you, that you can be passionate about, and take seriously.
  • Ask, “Yes or no? Does that work for me?  Do I want to, for-real, live the life my hero/heroine is living?

This will at least keep you from unquestioningly following what you think the people around you are saying about who and what you are and what you “should” be doing with your life.

It can help you judge for yourself whether a particular lifestyle, with all of its inherent pros and cons, is really how you want to spend your days.  It might put you on the road to finding the life that has meaning and mana for you.

Here’s a poem….


I have come to the conclusion

That the world is my mirror.

In its many-storied face I can find

Bits that resonate in me,

The hapless spectator with the flat feet.


I am like a harp wire, tightly wound,

That awakens as the air is stirred by

The sound of just one other string

Plucked by some insistent hand

That thrums and vibrates through me.


The stories are all around me,

Playing themselves out,

No more mindful of me

Than a stream is mindful of

A fallen leaf floating in it.


But, here’s the deal:

The stories I NOTICE are the ones

That tell me a thing or two

About what I am and who I am

And why I do my walk.


It is the fact that the story snagged my attention,

Raised up banners high,

Started horns tooting,

And fire-bombs flaring…

THAT’S the thing that needs attending.


Like the overly-sensitive, alarmingly bleeping parked car

In the middle of a quiet night in the ‘burbs,

It is mine to sort out.

I am the one that has to go deal with the durned thing,

Because it’s my car, my alarm, my concerns, my fears.


The world is my mirror.

What is it showing me?

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Through the Looking-Glass” by August Brill via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for the visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d share your thoughts and comments.


24 thoughts on “THOUGHTS ARE YOU

  1. HI, just to say thanks for the great article and very cool videos!
    I didn’t stumble upon those guys but I’ll definitely look for what they have to say to me!

    It is true (in my opinion) that we are what we think. And what we think is mostly determined by our perception of reality. The thing is do we trust what the reality is, I mean what we perceive as our reality?

    I know I had sort of an epiphany when I heard someone says “the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it”.

    Anyway thanks for the reading and insights, it’s always good to start a day on that note!

    1. Hey P.J.:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  You’ve hit on the major paradox, I think.  Is what we are perceiving real?  

      Crazy-making, ain’t it?

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.  Please do come again….

  2. Great read and videos! Thanks for that!

    It is quite thought-provoking as I like. Yes- what is the reality? What is my mirror of the word showing me?

    I like another quote by Earl Nightingale which says ” We become what we think about. Every one of us is the sum total of all our thoughts.”

    1. Hey Elektra:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  Earl Nightingale is truly one of my favorite thinkers.  I think he probably was one of guys that got me thinking on all the different ways humans walk.

      Please do come again.

  3. Nayem Zaman says:

    Thanks for Great read and videos! 

    Thanks for the great article and very cool videos!  I didn’t stumble upon those guys but I’ll definitely look for what they have to say to me!

    It is true (in my opinion) that we are what we think. And what we think is mostly determined by our perception of reality. The thing is do we trust what the reality is, I mean what we perceive as our reality?

    I know I had sort of an epiphany when I heard someone says “the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it”.

    I like this quote by Earl Nightingale which says ” We become what we think about. Every one of us is the sum total of all our thoughts.”

    Thanks for that!

    1. Nayem, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m so glad you found the post enjoyable.

      Please do come again….

  4. Hey thank you for the awesome post!  

    I love the poem at the end, it is such a beautiful poem and it fits the topic so well!  I practice QiGong and I also do Magick Rituals, both of which deal with thoughts, and controlling them to create change in your life.  

    I love that you talk about the importance of thoughts in forming who you are!

    1. Jessie, thanks for the comment and for sharing your thoughts.  I am pleased the post resonated with you.

      Please do come again.

  5. Thanks for this post on thoughts are you.  This is one of the greatest articles I would ever seen.  It’s really enlightened on how to live our lives on our own.  

    I wanna ask this question:  if you are this fearing person, and you really have good thoughts towards your life but you can’t execute them, how do you go about that??


    1. Rose, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.

      You ask one of the most important questions every one of us humans has to ask ourselves.  As I said in the post, “you are your thoughts,” but knowing THAT is just the first step in a life-long process.

      I’m afraid that all the wise guys and smarty pants all tell you that the only antidote to fear is action.  Yeah, I know…it sucks!  But, for real, thoughts are just air-bubbles stuck in your head until you try to do something in any direction they look like they are taking you.  

      If the fear is very big, then the only actions you can do are very small at first.  Once you take one step (a really teeny-tiny one) towards where you want to go (even if the step doesn’t turn out the way you want) it gets easier to take one more teeny step and then one more.  

      It’s like being a kid learning how to walk.  If the first time you fell down, you just stayed where you fell, then you would still be there now!

      Anyway, all those thoughts that are you are air-bubbles when they just stay in your head…which means you end up being an air bubble too.  There really is no way around it.

      Think, do…think some more, do some more…on and on.  

      Good fortune on your journey.  Know that all the rest of us who are trying to make our thoughts come real are scared and we are, all of us, doing it one teeny-tiny step at a time too.

      Please do come again.

  6. Thanks for this great post on how to have great thoughts in our lives and this makes us who we really wanna be. 

    Some years back I did think “I can’t make it in life.”  I read an article about how to have  positive thinking and how it all works for us.  Then I started  having some great positive thinking and this really brought me to where am I today.

    Thanks for this enlightening post 

    1. Gracie, thanks for the visit and for sharing your story.  I do agree, being able to reframe the things that happen in your live in a positive way sure is a way more interesting way to travel through life than just shuffling along going “ouch” all the time.

      Please do come again.

  7. Hello Netta, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I started following your posts recently and I am amazed.  You are a great inspiration. 

    I remember this sentence about thought from my teacher in high school and I never forgot it.  It is truly the truth but it is hard to believe in that for some people. 

    I want to ask you, can I share this poem on my FB profile? I am sure many people will find it interesting.

    1. Danijel, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m pleased you want to share the post.

      Please do come again.

  8. Hello Netta:

    I find your analysis profound.

    It is easy to think that we are the masters of our lives and of our destinies, but I find this form of thought a little limited. 

    The more I ask myself certain questions the more I become confused:  Why do we die? Have the victims of wars, hunger and epidemics, by their thought or action, caused their fate? Do we want to succeed socially and economically in the end? 

    I will be delighted if you could answer my questions.

    1. Moi MOI, I do thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do agree, World is very confusing.  Questions like yours have stymied the best minds down through the ages.

      My own feeling about all of this is that this World, this Life is a learning experience.  Ultimately, I am thinking, we humans are spiritual beings having a physical experience.  How we do that physical experience and the lessons we learn in the process about what it all means to be better humans and spirit-beings help us get past all the bullshit and pain and suffering we do have to deal with as we walk through this world.

      (It is kind of funny that.  I once told my late husband that the World was a school and we were here to learn.  He objected strenuously.  “NOT!” he said.  “No way.  This had better NOT be school!  I always flunked in school!”  I laughed and laughed.  We never did agree on that one.)

      It is never easy facing the hard the World throws at us.  My own thought is that I have been given this one life, this one place.  If I just work on making my own place and my own life shiny and good to be in, then that’s one less place and one less life that’s all trashed up.  If more people did that as well, then it stands to reason that together we can make the World shiny and good to be in.

      There is no way I will be able to tackle the whole mess in the World.  That’s not my job.  All I can do is the best I can do, and what works for me may not work for you.

      That’s my thought anyway.

      Please do come again.

  9. PeterMinea says:

    Hey Netta!

    We become what we think… Yes, we should pay much attention to how and what we think, because there’s a great chance that we identify ourselves with our thoughts!

    Also, Ecker’s progression makes much sense. It’s up to us what kind of results we will get, based on our thoughts, feelings, and actions!

    I still haven’t honestly answered the Primal question. This is an unsolved task to me.

    As for the relationship between how individuals behave and how their society operates, I believe that our own, personal behaviors are part of the society behavior as well. Every individual (or family) can be considered as a cell of the society they form.

    What if we are not only what we think, but also prisoners of our own thoughts? That is a hard challenge in life, and I am considering myself as a prisoner of my mode of thinking.

    Nice poem! Keep it on!

    Best regards,


    1. Peter, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am glad it encouraged you to think again about the basic truths we each live.

      I understand the feeling of being imprisoned by your own way of thinking.  I’ve been there, done that.  It sucks!

      The only solution I found was to think new thoughts and then go do them.  Every action got some kind of reaction from the world and I responded and the world responded and then I did…and so on and so forth.  The thing kept going back and forth until me and the World kind of built a new way of thinking for me that didn’t feel like a jail cell.

      It doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes a long time to get to where you can breathe free.  Mine is still a work in progress.  Probably it ends when I fall over dead.

      I can tell you that it is worth the effort.   

      Please do come again.

  10. Hi There,

    I must say I do like self-improvement videos from entrepreneurs but some of them are far too explosive and over the top. I’m also a fan of quotes mine is ‘Dream of Success & Search for Wisdom’ I enjoyed your website BTW really well put together and researched by the reading of it, well done.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Jonah.  I am glad you enjoyed it.

      Please do come again.

  11. How important are our thoughts? Sometimes we believe that to do great things we need to put a lot of work in. And that is certainly true. It all starts by changing the way we think. 

    It’s so simple but at the same time, so powerful! We can start even today! 

    Thank you for the encouragement!

    1. Abel, welcome back.  I do thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      Please do come again.

  12. Great points to ponder, and extremely relevant with our social media world where many identities seem to be shaped on the responses people receive. How you see yourself determines your ability to control your attitude and self talk and how much relevance you place on other’s opinions.

    A quote I was told that corroborates Thoughts Are You is  “Happiness is the difference between expectations and reality, so if you want to be happy simply change your expectations” (your thoughts)

    1. Thanks for the visit, Elaine.  I like (and agree with) that quote of yours.

      Please do come again.

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