Thoughts control actions. Thoughts come before emotions. Thoughts impact how other people see you, and how you react to every situation you come across. Choosing what thoughts to think can go a long way toward making you well or sick, happy or sad, lonely or connected, desperate or satisfied.
Many times I see two patients with the very same medical illness respond very differently. Sure, there are unique physical elements to each case. But the primary difference that determines how well they do comes down to their perspective – their thoughts.
You remember Paul’s admonition to “think on these things,” things that are true, noble, good, pure, and lovely. (See Phil. 4:8) You really can choose what to think about!
When circumstances are bad, when you are facing illness or relationship problems, when the future is concerning or uncertain, you naturally think dark, negative thoughts. The truth is sometimes partially negative. Choosing what to think about does not mean ignoring truth.
But it does mean choosing where, when, and how much time you spend thinking negative thoughts. You can choose, instead, to begin and end each day with something positive. Then the less positive aspects of life take on a very different hue. Even seriously ill patients or prisoners of war have found that choosing their thoughts, and choosing positive thoughts in particular, is a powerful way to maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual resilience.
If you feel challenged to know what to think about, here’s a list to get you started. When you find yourself rolling negative things around in your mind, choose one of these items instead. You can think about:
- Troubles you have survived
- People you care about
- People who care about you
- A goal you have achieved
- How God has blessed you
- Something artistic you think is beautiful
- An inspiring scene in nature
- Something you are proud of
- Something you have learned
- Someone you have helped
- The hope you have in knowing Jesus
- Someone who you would like to emulate (be more like)
- What you believe is most important in life
- A character trait you would like to develop
- What you would love to do if you could
- The difference God has made in your life
- Ways in which you have grown
- A time you felt loved
- A time you felt joy
- A time you felt God was close to you
- A story that inspires you
- A Scripture you find meaningful
- Something you would like to make better for others
- What it feels like to worship God
- A goal you would like to reach
Some of these thoughts involve memory. Some involve imagination. Some involve creativity. Some involve faith. All of those are great areas of your heart to draw on in choosing something good to think about.
Before you go to bed tonight, give it a try. Doing so may not solve your problem, but it will sure give you a clearer mental edge in discovering what you can do about it.
Think on these things.
Your turn: What negative thoughts do you struggle with? What positive thought can you go to when you need to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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