Did you know the power of positive thinking is searched in Google over a million times each month? It’s a catchy phrase that the world has turned to as a path to a happier life.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” ~Philippians 4:8
Positive thinking by God’s design
The Creator and Author of life is way ahead of the game on this one. The Bible outlined the power of positive thinking long ago.
Our thinking habits play a big part in the joy and peace we can experience this side of heaven. Check out all the positive thoughts God has in mind for you to think on…
The list of positive thoughts in Philippians 4:8 include:
Whenever I approach God’s Word, I find it is usually pretty clear what God wants. But it’s a bit more challenging to figure out how to apply the what.
Know what I mean?
How do you make yourself think positive thoughts? At first glance it seems like it’s not possible to control your thinking, making it positive.
I remember awhile back being in the long Starbucks line waiting to order. As my eyes wandered all over the room my eye caught a chalkboard that had a quote.
Are you ready for this simple, yet profound quote?
“A thought is just a thought and it can be changed.” ~Unknown
I rolled my eyes in disbelief. The truth is, that it struck a nerve. I’m a chronic over thinker. And just to be clear, my problem isn’t that I think too many positive thoughts!
I was already well aware my thought life needed some refinement, but I bought into the lie that thoughts weren’t something I could control.
I really viewed myself as a victim of my thinking. But guess what? The truth is… are you ready? We do have control over how we think. We can choose positive thinking.
I know what you’re thinking… I was surprised too!
Once I made that mind shift, my thought life shifted as well.
Do you need some refinement in your thought life, too?
So just to recap… I knew what kind of thoughts God wanted for me, but I didn’t believe it was possible. I never even entertained how to get to those thoughts because of my unbelief.
Imagine for a minute the negative thoughts in your head are the same as a horrible guest in your house. This visitor is a known liar, is incredibly rude and stirs up trouble in your relationships.
Do your thoughts speak lies that plant fear? Are your thoughts unkind to you, whispering things that leave you questioning yourself? How about thoughts that stir up strife in your relationships?
What would you do with a guest like that? Would you keep inviting them in every day? I don’t think so.
They might come knocking, but I’m gonna bet you stop inviting them into your home. Our negative thoughts might come knocking too, but we can choose whether or not to let them in and allow them to wreak havoc in our lives.
Let’s talk about 5 ways we can reclaim some joy and peace by choosing positive thinking for ourselves.
5 Habits Leading to Positive Thinking
Habit #1 of Positive Thinking: Just Say No
The first habit of positive thinkers is saying, “No” to negative thoughts.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~James 4:7
The longer negative thoughts stay, the more they settle in and get comfortable. Just like that guest we talked about earlier. If you allow the guest to unpack, he begins to settle in and stay awhile. It’s the same thing with our thoughts.
We must stop those thoughts before they gain momentum. In other words, once these thoughts gain a foothold they are positioned to make progress.
This is decision time. So you know what you do? Think something else. Here’s a tip… you can’t think 2 thoughts at the same time. Choose positive thinking to replace the negative.
Habit #2 of Positive Thinking: Find the Good
So often I settle for the first negative thing that pops into my mind instead of finding the good. Good is everywhere… but you gotta look for it, acknowledge it and dwell on it.
My husband, daughter and myself met up for some Chinese food. On the overhead music was Dave Matthews. We were pretty big fans back in the day. So much so, that we went to a concert 21yrs ago and my husband proposed that night.
As he started to tell our daughter the story of the song playing, I blurted out – “Remember how ridiculous the traffic was after the concert?”
Seriously! What in the world? He’s about to tell a romantic story starring me and him and I’m talking about the traffic 21 years ago!
I knew it the second I said the words. I wanted to pull the words in, but they were hanging in the air. I totally killed the moment with negativity.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the good. But it’s there… the very practice of finding the good is a habit that leads to positive thinking.
Habit #3 of Positive Thinking: Assume the Best
Our brains are wired to fill in the gaps with assumptions based on our experiences. This is one of the wonderful ways we were made. But there is a downside. Because of our wayward hearts, we have a propensity to turn a blessing into an entirely different beast.
When we make assumptions about someone, we’re drawing a conclusion about that person. In other words, we are judging. Judging the motives of others is not part of God’s job description for us.
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” ~Romans 14:13a
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I have a bad habit of drawing negative conclusions about someone’s motives. I might assume there is unkindness or an agenda behind what someone says.
In order to make positive thinking a habit – I have to assume the best of others. I used to think that sounded naive, but assuming the worst is rather arrogant. Arrogant? Yeah, because I’m stepping into the role of Judge… I wasn’t made for that. We weren’t made for that.
So how do we get going on this positive thinking of assuming the best? I’m glad you asked. I’ve made a rule for myself. You might like it. I’m gonna warn you though it’s tough. Seriously, it cracks down on negative assumptions.
If I don’t want to assume the best, I have to ask the other person about my negative assumption. I have to ask clarifying questions about what’s going on in my head. I generally don’t like exposing myself so, again and again I choose to assume the best.
You know what? Assuming the best has gotten easier as I’ve practiced it. And the fall out? More positive thinking! More joy!
Habit #4 of Positive Thinking: Gratitude
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
Could you use a 25% boost of happiness? How about a 25% boost in positive thinking? Let’s talk about simple ways to squeeze gratitude into your already packed day.
Simply verbalizing a few things you’re thankful for each day is a game changer. Remember earlier when we talked about finding the good? Once you find it point it out and thank God for it.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” ~James 1:17a
Journaling a few minutes each day about your blessings will get you that 25% boost! The bonus in writing it down, means you can return to it on a day when it was more challenging to find the good.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” ~Psalms 77:11
Finally, make it a habit to discuss the highlights of the day over dinner with your family. This way you’re leaving a legacy of gratitude for your children. And at the same time you’re giving your whole family a secret 25% boost of happiness. You’re literally training them in positive thinking.
Habit #5 of Positive Thinking: Be Present
Being present in the moment is a hot term these days, but there is biblical wisdom in this practice. When we live in the present, we can engage more easily in positive thinking. God’s Word specifically tells us two places He doesn’t want our mind to settle.
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.” ~Isaiah 43:18
Dwelling literally means taking up residence somewhere. Is this an area you’re struggling with? It’s easy to get stuck in a painful experience from the past. I’m not suggesting to stuff it down and think happy thoughts. But, I am suggesting you prayerfully evaluate whether or not this needs further healing.
If more healing is what you need, make a plan of action with steps to take toward healing. However, if the problem is rehashing the past – this will not pave the way to positive thinking.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” ~Matthew 6:34
The other place we might be focused on is the future. Many of us are constantly thinking about the next thing. This focus typically has a flavor of anxiety about the “unknowns”.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9
Thinking and worrying about the future is not God’s best for His people. He reminds us over and over again He is with us. God wants us to entrust our fears to Him and rest. The rest part means be present, live now, He’s got this.
You wouldn’t want your children to live in fear of tomorrow, right? You’d likely tell them to just be kids and you’ll take care of tomorrow. Well, God is saying the same thing to us… His children.
So let’s live in the present and I’m willing to bet positive thinking naturally follows.
Shew! We did it. We walked through 5 habits (that are part of God’s best for His children) so we can start engaging in positive thinking.
Before we part ways – remember this – progress, not perfection! God equipped you for the life He wants for you. Which is bigger than anything we can imagine for ourselves!
Do you want to put off negative thinking and start thinking more positively? Me too.
Quick Recap on Positive Thinking
- Just say no to the negative thoughts. Kick them out of your head before they get settled in.
- Find the good. Train your brain to look for the good in every situation.
- No matter what your experience with someone, assume the best. If you choose not to assume the best be willing to ask the tough questions about your assumptions.
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Enough said!
- Be present. Let your mind settle on now. Focus your thoughts on gratitude and finding the good in this day. Let go of yesterday and stop looking for tomorrow. Be present today.
That wasn’t too bad, was it? I love a plan! Let’s practice positive thinking together… progress, not perfection.
Leave a comment!
Which habit are you planning to start with?