. . . the power of the mind.
Both Chris and I had opportunities/situations today where we realized how very powerful our attitudes are to our own wellbeing and to the wellbeing of those around us. It seems to me that 75% of a person’s happiness in a given situation depends on the attitude they have about it, and the attitudes that others sharing their situation have about it.
I know that so far this sounds like a bunch of self-help, “power of the mind” mish mash, but it’s not – it is completely scriptural.
I remember that my Mom had a framed piece of art when I was growing up of Philippians 4:8 –
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.
– and I remember always picturing in my head 18th century Puritans from books I had read who were only supposed to think “holy” thoughts on Sundays – and how bored they always were in said books. That verse just always seemed so dull and pietous when I would read it, and I was not at all interested in being so very “holy”. But, in the past few years I have discovered that it is a verse that is as much for our OWN good and health as it is for our holiness. It’s amazing how many scriptural principals that our really for us instead of God!! :) It seems like every time that God teaches me something about His Word, He shows me how it benefits ME, not just Him.
Back to the point: when I am positive, when I am looking at things through the light of Christ and the perspective of Eternity, I am automatically happier, more fulfilled, less anxious, less stressed, and more useful to God to speak into the lives of others. When I am allowing myself to focus on the negatives and think about all the problems in my life, I am completely useless to God, so fragile that the least bit of rocking my boat sends me into a tailspin, and I am downright miserable.
I have had plenty of both of these states of mind in my life.
But in particular what I have been thinking about today is how our thought patterns affect those around us nearly as much as they affect us. My thought patterns lead to my attitude, which leads to my reactions, words, and body language to others. And whoever I am around, I am practically oozing my thoughts out onto them at all times, and covering them with my attitudes. I have the opportunity to be an awesome encouragement if I am keeping the Mind of Christ, or I can be an oppressing force of negative worldview if I am allowing myself to wallow in negative thoughts.
Moreover, I have learned that if my own situations and stress make it difficult to be positive, I can still consciously make the effort to reflect Christ’s Light to others rather than making them share in my current stress. I have been good and bad at this in different times of my life for sure, but since we’re focusing on the positive, I will use my best run at this as my example. I think that the time that I had the most victory in this area in my life was when I was an Accounting Manager. I felt all too much the responsibility and stresses of my job, but just as strongly I was aware of how much my attitude and perspective on my job directly affected my employees. I had my days where I let my stress show through, but for the most part, I dealt with my stress at lunch with God and my Bible at the picnic table out back. I was able to (hopefully) set the tone for my department of positivity, and not fussing or backbiting or complaining. It was actually some of the hardest years in my life, but through God’s Grace, He constantly reminded me that it would be better for me and for those I was responsible for if I did not allow my stress to bleed through to my attitude.
I want to be more aware of this on a daily basis like I was then. My happiness, positivity and joy for life will directly affect my family, my friends, and my co-workers.
Here are some more verses and thoughts on it:
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.
I think that I prayed that verse many times during those difficult years of work. It isn’t fun overcoming your thought life and keeping it from ruling your life. In at least two other specific times in my life I allowed my thoughts to get the best of me and the enemy definitely triumphed over me. Those were the most miserable times in my life!
I want God to cleanse my mind and renew me to think THROUGH Christ and not of myself!!
The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.
How true. Our thoughts will almost always lead us into trouble without God’s hand governing them.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Through God’s grace to us who have looked on Him for salvation, we have been freed from those thoughts!! We can live in freedom by accepting God’s gift and living through Christ!
clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
. . . but we must still CHOOSE not to dwell on ourselves.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Living according to our own thinking leads to ignorance and hard hearts!
And finally, the whole passage in context,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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.
What an amazing promise!! God will guard our minds in Christ Jesus if we ask him to!!! He will help us have right thoughts and positive attitudes!!