We are not prisoners to our thoughts. We can choose what we think.
Those were challenging words when I first received them. In the past, I would to stew on bad thoughts over and over again. My thought life could keep me angry, immobile, or depressed for days. My thought life was frequently miserable. I was literally captive to my own thinking.
As you may be aware, as Christians we are commanded to think on good things. The Bible says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
What does thinking on good things look like?
The first step for me was simple: I realized that I actually thought about bad things on a regular basis. It was the “norm” for me. Along with that, I also came to the realization for the first time that I did not have to think about whatever random thing popped in my head. I had the power to choose my thoughts instead.
I began to understand that I could replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. As a beginner to this, I made a list of good things to think about. It was all very simple. Some ideas on my list included:
- Thinking about a bible verse that I was memorizing
- Thinking about God’s provisions for me
- Thinking about a good goal
- Thinking about a major accomplishment
- Thinking about my favorite hobby
- Thinking about planning a future vacation
- Thinking about your favorite part of the week
If you are struggling with your thoughts, things can get much better. There is hope. You can choose your thoughts. It also may not be as difficult as you may think. It takes some commitment and discipline, but it can happen and even quickly. In my life, I found that I struggled with my thoughts when I was doing repetitive tasks like mowing the yard. I always listened to music, but I found that my bad thoughts were louder than the songs.
I was able to change that. I began to identify when I started thinking about these negative, untruthful things. Then, I would consciously stop my thoughts and not allow myself to think about those things anymore. This was the hardest part – at least at first. You see, for some reason I liked to think about negative, destructive things. Honestly, I even loved to think on those negative thoughts. Yet, it was wrong and very bad for me! It was also a sin and clearly against God’s commandments.
Finally, I picked something good to think about. I thought about a wholesome goal that I wanted to reach. I made plans on how to achieve that goal and even thought about how it would feel to reach that goal. Other times I would simply think about more noble, truthful aspects of my new Christian life. I noticed a change in my life right away. Days that would have been overtaken negativity, worry, or depression were turned into positive and productive days.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -meditate on these things.”Philippians 4:8