Over the past decade, Buddhism, Taoism, and Greek and Roman wisdom are all being scientifically validated. Probably there is little reason to read past Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. In general: You are who you choose to be. You become your actions.
Epictetus said: "If you want to be a writer...write." How banal? Is it? How many people say, "I want to be a writer," but don't write? Certainly many more than who actually write.
I want to be a good parent. Then parent. This means turning off the television or shelving the books or directing attention outward toward the child. Every parent says, "I want to be a good parent." Few of them actually parent. Probably every parent watches TV, though.
Well, that's not just classical Greek Wisdom. Western science is validating the view that we become what we think:
Prof Langer recruited a group of elderly men all in their late 70s or 80s for what she described as a "week of reminiscence". They were not told they were taking part in a study into ageing, an experiment that would transport them 20 years back in time.
The psychologist wanted to know if she could put the mind back 20 years would the body show any changes.
Prof Langer took physiological measurements both before and after the week and found the men improved across the board. Their gait, dexterity, arthritis, speed of movement, cognitive abilities and their memory was all measurably improved.
Their blood pressure dropped and, even more surprisingly, their eyesight and hearing got better. Both groups showed improvements, but the experimental group improved the most.
We have millennia of Greek and Chinese wisdom. We have modern science. Yet people still treat, "How will I become who I want to be?" as one of life's great mysteries. There is no mystery.
Incidentally, you will become something. The only question is: Who will be your maker?