What characterizes your thoughts?
Are your thoughts courageous? Are they fanciful? Are they rewarding? Can you be a hero just sitting at your desk, thinking?
New York Times columnist David Brooks discussed this in depth in a Sept. 1, 2014, column published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As Brooks writes, it’s easy to see heroism in a soldier who displays courage under fire. But can someone sitting at a desk, alone, be a hero? He can, with the right thoughts.
Brooks cites the 2007 book “Intellectual Virtues,” by Robert C. Roberts of Baylor University and W. Jay Wood of Wheaton College. The authors list six characteristics that would determine whether you might be a thought hero.
First, Brooks writes, one must love to learn and be ardently curious. In other words, a thought hero would seek the most information he can before he talked about, or formed an opinion about, something.
Secondly, one needs courage. It’s not just a willingness to hold unpopular views, as Brooks writes, but, as he puts it, the reckless thinker takes a few pieces of information and leaps to some faraway conspiracy theory.
Third is firmness. That’s the middle ground between surrendering one’s beliefs at the slightest opposition, and holding dogmatically to a belief against all evidence. You might say it’s an upgrade from wishy-washy, and a dial-down from arrogance.
The fourth is humility – not letting a good story get in the way of the facts, to paraphrase a quote attributed to Mark Twain.
Then there’s autonomy – forming your own thoughts, not just adopting as gospel what someone else may have told you. You may gladly accept others’ guidance, but, in the end, what you think should be your own.
Finally, there is generosity. If you know something that someone else doesn’t know, you share it – willingly and for free. It also means hearing others as they wish to be heard – not looking to pounce on others’ errors, Brooks writes.
All this adds up to openness of thought. To open one’s mind, one must also open his heart and soul. Today’s society is loaded with what the comedians call “truthiness.” Ads, political statements, online postings and other communications are loaded with stretched truth, even outright falsehoods.
The dangers we face have to do with what we accept as true. Along the way, if we have constant curiosity, we might find that something we were told was true by someone or something we respect may not be true. We have to recognize those situations as we encounter them.
So, after reviewing the “Intellectual Virtues,” where do your thoughts fit in? Are you truly open to the truth? If you are, visit You’ll see and hear real, truthful stories from real people. You might even like what you hear and see.
It’s possible to become more intellectually virtuous if you are honest about yourself and your thoughts. Change can be hard. Improvements may come slowly. But if you desire intellectual virtue, go for it! Do what you need to do to get it. It may not be as hard to attain as you might think. And, others you never thought would may follow you.


Growing up, were you often told what was NOT possible?
Did your elders convince you that the world was going to hell in a hand basket?
Were you constantly reminded of your “limitations?”
And, were you told that if you didn’t do certain things, you’d be messed up for life?
These and other things are common in “middle class” thinking, as defined by author Steve Siebold in his book “How Rich People Think.”
He talks about how we are often steered on a path of security, scarcity and pessimism, as opposed to risk-taking, abundance and optimism.
The trick to getting off that train of thought, and potentially becoming wealthy, is relearning what IS possible, believing that things will always get better and knowing that the sky is the limit to your success.
There is certainly nothing wrong with respecting your elders – parents, teachers, preachers etc. There is nothing wrong with emulating their work ethic and empathizing with their struggles. But ultimately, you may realize that some of what they taught you may not work for you. The secret to becoming rich is believing you can be. The secret to becoming rich, as Siebold points out, is to find solutions to problems, or figuring out what people want and delivering it to them.
If you have a job, and most of us do, recognize it for what it is. Especially in this day and age, it’s hardly the security blanket it once might have been. Look at it as a means to move you toward what you really want – that is, if you think like a rich person.
If you monitor how a rich person behaves, you’ll learn that he doesn’t behave that way BECAUSE he has money. He has money because he behaves the way he does.
Sure, good ideas might come from outside the box. But a familiar pattern of limitless possibilities, optimism and fearlessness are pretty standard among those who have money.
As we grow older, we realize that many of our fears are taught. Much of what we view as “evil” was handed down to us. Much of what we see on the horizon we approach with extreme caution and wariness, out of concern that we might lose everything.
To think rich, you don’t have to be rich. But if you think rich, you might become rich. Start by getting comfortable with taking calculated risks. Then, believe that the world will definitely get better, and you are going to help make it so. Then, realize the security you so doggedly sought is at least teetering, if not collapsed altogether. But, that’s OK. Rich people don’t expect entities to give them anything, Siebold writes.
Take a good look at your life. Are you completely happy with it? You just may be. Perhaps you have a wonderful spouse , a supportive family and dependable friends. With all that, who needs financial abundance, right?
But if life is not giving you what you want, and believe you deserve, visit Feed your mind with good information, inspiration and possibilities. Learn that your future can be bright no matter what else happens.
To paraphrase Napoleon Hill, learn to think and become rich.


If you had all the money in the world, how would you feel?
There are all kinds of answers, and there are many books out there that try to teach us how to think about money.
Steve Siebold has written one called, “How Rich People Think.” It teaches, much the way Napoleon Hill teaches in “Think and Grow Rich,” or Robert Kiyosaki in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” that we have to look at how we think before we can get rich.
Sure, you can inherit a bunch of money from your late great aunt, or you can win a big lottery jackpot. But, chances are, if you have what Siebold calls “middle class thoughts” about money, you probably won’t have your fortune for very long.
Most of us have been taught that hard work, a good education and keeping your nose to the grindstone for, say, 40 years will help you retire comfortably.
But if you think like a rich person, you are not thinking about having enough money to retire, as Siebold writes. You are thinking about having enough money to make an impact on the world.
In other words, to be rich, you have to think of solutions to problems, and invent them.
Most of us were taught that if we had a job, or something else that was paying us, we had to worry about holding onto it. Rich people will try things, fail numerous times, and try something else. They don’t fear failure or loss. In fact, they don’t fear much of anything. Even if they lose their fortunes, they know they will find a way to make them back.
That may be why it’s difficult to really punish white-collar criminals. They used their genius for evil, and most of us would like nothing more than to see them lose everything. Even if they lost everything, they would find a way to make it back – hopefully in an ethical, law-abiding way this time.
Yes, we all would like to have a lot of money. Some of us believe it is not possible for us to get a lot of money. It’s possible for anyone to get a lot of money, just by thinking the right thoughts. You don’t think about who would give it to you. You think about how you can come up with the idea that people will pay you for.
Then, you think about how you can use and grow that money. As Siebold writes, middle-class people think about how to spend money. Rich people think about how to invest money.
Most of us have been taught to get a good education – get through high school, go to college, get a degree in something that will get you a good job. Rich people, Siebold says, don’t think of education in terms of degrees. They think of education as learning anything that will make them money. Some of the richest people in the world have relatively little formal education. They’ve just thought about ways to make money, learned what they needed to pull it off and gotten rich.
Do you think like a rich person? Do you think like a middle-class person? Do you think of making money via a job, or making money via an idea? Once you get money, do you think more of ways to spend it, or more of ways to invest it?
As you ponder these questions, visit You will see how some ordinary, middle-class folks got wealthy, and how you could do the same. The only difference between them and you is how they think. It’s difficult to become rich, until you first learn to think like a rich person.
Give it a shot. Think what you would do to make a lot of money, and to not just preserve it, but use it to help others. Don’t be jealous or envious of the rich. If you feel that way, remember the best way you can help the poor is not to be one of them.