Recently, I listened to a sermon (Source: David Dwight, Hope Church, Richmond, VA) where the following question was asked: Do you ever think about what you think about? Since then, that question has popped into my mind several times. The truth is, I haven’t really intentionally spent time thinking about what I think about. But it is a truly relevant question. The things we think about can have a dramatic effect on our attitude, our mood, and even our actions. Therefore, it seems that devoting some time to what we think about is a worthy endeavor.
When I finally took the time to evaluate my daily thoughts, I was surprised at how many negative thoughts went through mind. I consider myself to be a positive person, but I now realize I need to be better tuned in and more aware of the thoughts that are “streaming” in my mind.
It has been estimated that an average brain has anywhere from 25,000 – 50,000 thoughts a day and 70% of them are negative (Source: Psychology Today). That is a lot of negative thinking and it must take a toll on our psyche. Given this, it is no wonder that many of us deal with anxiety, stress, depression, sleeping disorders, and other debilitating conditions. So, what can we do about this?
- We can begin by thinking about what we are thinking about. Really focus in on our thoughts. How many of them are negative? Are they truly urgent and important things worthy of our attention or are they simply the result of unhealthy thought patterns?
- Try to identify the irrational negative thoughts. They are distracting, unproductive, and can darken your mood even though they have no relevance to your life.
- Be realistic. Sometimes we really are thinking about relevant problems and issues. Those thoughts may need your attention. Spend some time constructively thinking about them, but in the context of looking for solutions. Sometimes, it is a good idea to write them down along with possible options.
- Retrain your mind to think better thoughts. One great way to do this is to practice gratitude. We all have things to be thankful for. Make a list and keep it somewhere nearby so that when you start thinking negatively, you can refocus on the good things in your life.
- Have some quiet time. Spend some time in meditation, silence, or prayer simply letting thoughts enter and exit your mind and focusing on your heartbeat or breathing.
- Participate in acts of kindness to others. One of the best ways to get your mind off the negative is to involve your self in helping others with their struggles
I hope you will find this helpful and will take the time today to think about what you think about. Please feel free to write back any thoughts or ideas you have about this.