In the 1978 movie, The Wiz, the scarecrow’s missing brain made him think he couldn’t win. I remember watching the Wizard of Oz as a young girl and being jealous of the scarecrow because he didn’t have a brain. That’s why he was so dumb happy. No brain, no thoughts. No thoughts, no worries. The way I saw it, scarecrows were winning.
I’m a thinker. I’ve always been a thinker. My thoughts carry me away to the most illogical and frightening places of the future. They carry me back to the most dreadful moments of my past. Sure, I now have plenty of positive peaks — like rehearsing my Oscar speech, seeing myself crush my workout, or envisioning myself at 85 years old. I don’t spend much time thinking I’ll die at a young age, have a stroke during a cycle class, or be a complete failure as a screenwriter. I’ve trained my mind to be positive…even Pollyanna at times.
There are bazillions of quotes about positive thinking. We’ve all been encouraged to change our thoughts and it will change our lives. James Allen wrote the book, “As a Man Thinketh” in 1903 and self-help experts continue to warn us about the dangers (and opportunities) of our thoughts. Thoughts are the seeds that grow the fruit of our lives. Like all seeds, they require nurturing to grow into the best harvest.
Nobody can stay positive 3000 thoughts an hour. You’re going to have some slips in there for sure. However, there is a way to train your mind so that you can have fewer and fewer negative thoughts and focus your brain on other things. Spoiler alert! We’re going to use the Bible as our guide. In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells us to think on things that are true, right, pure, lovely and admirable. He says we should focus our minds on what is praiseworthy. It’s overwhelming at first, but it gets easier the more you practice.
When you have a negative thought ask yourself…
Is it True?
Let’s say…oh I don’ t know…you lose your job. Your thoughts carry that present truth into the future. You begin to think you’ll never find another job. You surmise that you’ll run out of money before you find another job. You’ll drain your savings, lose your house, your car, etc. You think that you’ll be forced to take a job out of necessity. You might be forced to work as a circus clown — nothing against clowns if that’s your gift. Depending on how severe your stinking thinking is, you can take a simple truth like “I lost my job” to a place far away from the reality. Instead, see the present truth for what it is and do not allow your mind to go any further beyond the present. Stay with what is true.
Is it Right?
Don’t infuse your opinion onto the facts and make the issue bigger than it is. You lost your job. Okay. Losing your job doesn’t mean you aren’t smart, capable, or valuable in the market. Sometimes it just means budget cuts, headcount restraints, or good ol’ buddies who play golf looking out for each other. Ask yourself if your thought is “right” or if you are infusing subjective meaning onto the facts. Stick with the facts. Don’t drown yourself into demeaning meaning.
Is it Pure?
This is a big one. Do your thoughts line up with God’s word? In the examples above, the thoughts about losing a job do not line up with what the Bible says. Allowing thoughts to spiral down a path of professional and financial destruction goes against what God has promised us. In the Bible, God tells us that He came to give us abundant life. God promises to provide for us and tells us not to worry. So if you start to imagine a downward spiral, change it! You have to remind yourself that God has plans to prosper and not harm you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Is it Praiseworthy?
This is my favorite and the one I use the most to train my brain. I know how to pull a scripture to support my views. So my mind can be quick to go to places where God allowed bad stuff to happen. It rains on everybody, good and bad. (Matthew 5:45) Job lost everything… and then he got it all back with twice as much. Hannah was broken and barren…and then she had Samuel. Sometimes you have to move further along in the thought process. Put an “AND” on the situation. When you think, “I might lose my job.” Then say, “AND God will give me a better job with more money.” Don’t let your thoughts get stuck in the struggle. Go beyond the point of fear, anger, or doubt to the praise-worthy moment.
The irony with the scarecrows in The Wiz and Wizard of Oz is that they had brains. The way they used their brains was passive and so there was a void. Soon their ability to think became unrecognizable. Use your brain on purpose. Be intentional about your thoughts. If it were easy to have positive thoughts, we wouldn’t have over a hundred years of self-help books teaching us how to do it. Paul would not have explained to the Philippians that they needed to “fix” there minds on positive things. Positive thinking takes purposeful practice. The more you practice aligning your thoughts with God’s way, the easier it gets. Practice true, right, positive, praise-worthy thinking. Start today.