It's a mistake, I think, to believe we can "be guided by thoughts" rather than "guide them." Or rather, we should recognize that it's a two-way street; one feeds into the other. Critical reflection begins when we acknowledge the systems of belief (or "ideology," to use the controversial term) that guide (I'll bite the bullet and say determine) our thoughts. And this is not to say that we should feel bad about having a prevailing ideology... it is to say that we should acknowledge and assess alternative ideologies, and make sure we have good reasons for sticking with the ones we do.
I think that a major concern about what guides us in our every day life are the habits we form that in turn determine our character that in turn determines our attitude. If we wish to have a better posture we consciously form the habit of standing with good posture. Over time this become fixed and we walk with good posture. Likewise with everything in our life. Habit and the will to achieve are what determine our attitudes.
What is character? Character is the network of habits that permeate all the intentional acts of an individual.
My understanding of character and the quotations that follow concerning the nature of character are taken from "Habits and Will" by John Dewey http://www.alexandercenter.com/jd/johndeweyhabits.html.
I am not using the word habit in the way we often do, as a technical ability existing apart from our wishes. These habits are an intimate and fundamental part of our selves. They are representations of our will. They rule our will, working in a coordinated way they dominate our way of acting. These habits are the results of repeated, intelligently controlled, actions.
Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits. "Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction." "The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought." "Immediate, seemingly instinctive, feeling of the direction and end of various lines of behavior is in reality the feeling of habits working below direct consciousness." "Habit means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli, standing predilections and aversions, rather than bare recurrence of specific acts. It means will."
We display an attitude toward most any subject. An attitude cannot be described explicitly but is a notion, which is an inference, based upon behavior. We are all inclined to behave consistently to a situation and this behavior is attributed to our attitude. Our attitudes can be observed by others and the quality of such attitudes are judged based on observed behavior.