Our thoughts determine our feelings and our feelings determine our actions.
If we want to live positively we must carefully choose what we think about. The Proverb states: “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” It’s been said, “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.” Mohandas Gandhi wrote, “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”
Feelings are determined by thoughts. Thoughts are the seeds one plants for future attitudes. What you think about today is what you will do tomorrow.
The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If you want to change your actions, change the way you think. If you want to change your attitudes, change the thoughts you put in your mind. Sometimes you may act negatively; that is, you may worry, be angry, be depressed, complain, or criticize. Do you know why? Because you feel that way. Do you know why you feel that way? Because you are thinking negative thoughts. If you want to change your actions, don’t focus on your feelings, focus on changing your thoughts.
Granted this is easier said than done. But here are four practical steps for changing your thoughts.
Make your first thoughts God-directed.
Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you crawl out of bed, crawl into his presence. Some people make it a habit to roll out of bed onto their knees and begin their day in prayer. C. S. Lewis wrote: “the moment you wake up each morning . . . [all] your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job of each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life comes flowing in.”
Focus your waiting thoughts on uplifting-ideas.
Consider that by the time your life is over, you will have spent six months at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, a year and a half looking for lost stuff, and a whopping five years standing in various lines. Why use those moments thinking about something upbeat and positive? In the waiting moments, the common becomes the uncommon, by becoming a cathedral as you pray, or a classroom as you learn from a teaching CD or read a book.
Center your repeated thoughts on the winning outcome.
We all talk to ourselves often saying the same thing over and over again. Make sure those repeated thoughts are positive and will benefit you not bring you down. Positive self-talk is one of the most powerful tools we can use. We are going to talk to ourselves, some of us will even answer ourselves. The point is to make those words uplifting and encouraging. We, in many respects, are the benefactors of self-fulfilling prophecy. We become what we think and say to ourselves.
Give your final thoughts to God.
Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his forgiveness. Seek his wisdom. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psa. 121:4 NIV).
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