I saw the following quote:

"Watch your thoughts, They become your words; Watch your words, They become your deeds; Watch your deeds, They become your habits; Watch your habits, They become your character; Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

Does anyone know who said this quote?


2 Answers 2


The exact language is that of Patrick Overton, a motivational speaker of the 1940s, but he borrowed the concept which is much older and was in common parlance among advice peddlers of those days.

The idea originates with pastors and evangelists who commonly included such sayings in their sermons. The inspiration for the concept is Jeremiah 4:14 where it says, "Watch your thoughts, for sin begins with thought, and how long will vain thoughts be with you?"

Just to show how old this idea is, I will quote Bartholomew Ashwood (1622-1680):

Christians, make conscience of your thoughts; they must come to judgment; watch your hearts from whence they come, and watch your thoughts whither they go... etc.

You can find "Watch Your Thoughts" poems and mottoes throughout newspapers, magazines, sermon books and other places going back hundreds of years.

  • 1
    Yes, even more than hundreds, I'd say thousands. For example, Marcus Aurelius: "Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts." (The idea is definitely older than christianity.)
    – V.E.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 21:39
  • What translation of Jeremiah are you using? I can't find any translation that is remotely similar to what you quote
    – b a
    Jun 26, 2019 at 18:25

Lao Tzu -- lived in China 6th century BC and wrote the Tao Te Ching- his influence on many Spiritual writings is emmence.

  • 2
    Welcome to History:SE. Your answer would be greatly improved if you edit to add sources to support your assertions. Especially given the information on the site linked in the comment on the question. You might find it helpful to review our site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to write a good answer. Mar 9, 2020 at 2:53

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