Friday, August 26, 2011

You Got Your Mind Right?

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul encourages us to take charge of every thought to the obedience of Christ. Contrary to what some may say, positive thinking is Biblical. You might even say that God invented positive thinking.

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Also, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). Julian of Norwich, in her book Revelations of Divine Love wrote, “For of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon His goodness that pleases Him most and brings the most profit to our soul.”

God wants us to think optimistic and uplifting thoughts because He knows whatever we focus on we will become. Actions follow thoughts. As you think, so will you act. If you want to be positive and happy, you have to think positive and happy.

The difference between thinking positive thoughts as a Christian and in other worldviews is that in Christian positive thinking Christ is at the center. He is the reason why you choose to think positively, whereas the secular model is a “self-help” technique with the self at the center. Christ is the only reason anyone can have hope and the only reason we can be positive. Self-help methods are egocentric and the self cannot save. Instead of an egocentric mentality our attitudes should be God-centric with Christ being the reason for our positive thoughts. Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher who lived in London in the 1800s, said, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”

Frank Minirith, M.D. and Paul Meier, M.D. wrote a book titled Happiness Is a Choice. The 200-plus-page book has a lot to say, but the premise is that you can be happy if you choose to be so. If you opt to be depressed or upset, you will be depressed and upset. If you decide to worry all the time you will only stress yourself out. Matthew 6:27 (NIV) says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

If you choose to focus on the good, and to think and meditate on things that are positive, you will radiate a positive disposition, and people will want to be around you.
You can choose to think about all the bad in life or you can decide to think about all the good in life. If you select to focus on all of your problems, people will most likely not want to hang around with you. After all, who wants to be friends with a grump?

You can focus on what you can’t do or you can focus on can do. Either way your outlook, attitude, and overall demeanor will resemble your thoughts. How you think coincides with how you feel and vice versa; there is a direct correlation. If you want to feel better, think better. In essence, happiness is more a state of mind than a set of circumstances. I’ve heard it said that happy people don’t have the best of everything; they make the best of everything.

Clinical psychologist and author Dr. Henry Cloud said, “Happy people set limits on what they will and will not allow in their lives.” If you don’t want to be negative, don’t allow negative people or things in your life. Likewise, if you want to be positive, place positive people and things in your life. Put friends around you that will speak truth in your life. Don’t waste your time hanging around people that are always putting you down. Negative people feed off of each other. Instead of hanging around people who tell you how dumb you are, put yourself around people who will encourage you and say positive things about you. Hang around people that will build you up. Most people will live up to or down to the expectations of others. If you want to be good put yourself around people who expect you to be good.

There are a lot of things in life you can’t control. You have no control over who your parents are, what your age is, your skin color, whether you are born male or female, but you can control your attitude.

You can choose to be a positive thinker. If you want to be a winner you’ve got to think like one. If you want to be successful you’ve got to see yourself as a winner and no longer a loser. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ.”
Don’t focus on your failures, focus on what you want to achieve.

Jesus has already paid the price for us as believers to be victorious over life. As I began to see myself the way God saw me, as a winner – and not as the person I use to be—my life began to pick up more momentum. Consider the message of the following poem (anonymous):

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

In their book Telling Yourself the Truth, William Backus, Ph.D. and Marie Chapian, Ph.D. discuss what they have coined as Misbelief Therapy. This brand of therapy encourages clients to take on a new way of thinking. Some people get stuck in negative thoughts, which over time becomes a cycle in which the person is trapped and thinks pessimistic thoughts all the time. The authors suggest that clients break the habit of negative self-talk by speaking truth into their lives. Some examples of thought pattern changes listed by the authors include the following:

Instead of thinking “I am dumb” think “Thank you, LORD, for giving me intelligence.”

Instead of thinking “I am unattractive” think “Thank you, LORD for making me attractive.”
Instead of thinking “I have no talents” think “Thank you, LORD, for the talents you’ve given me.”
Instead of thinking “I’m lonely” think “Thank you, LORD, for the friends I have.”
Instead of thinking “I am miserable” think “I’m content.”
Instead of thinking “I’m poor” think “Thank you, LORD, for making me prosper.”

Proverbs 15:15 says, “All the days of the afflicted are evil. But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It’s not always what happens to you; rather it’s your reactions to what happens to you that make the difference. Many times the situation that you may think you are in is not reality, but your misbelief of the situation. Instead of allowing yourself to be afflicted by negative thoughts, be grateful for what you have. In other words, quit your “stink’in think’in” and choose to be positive.

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