What’s running through your mind? Is something troubling you? Sometimes when my husband looks deep in thought, I’ll ask him the age-old question every woman asks her man: “So, what are you thinking about?” Often, to my surprise, he’ll respond with one word that leaves me genuinely puzzled. You’ve probably already guessed it, and we could say it in unison.
I try to wrap my head around this - is it even possible to think of nothing? Women may say, “nothing,” but what that really means is we’re thinking about something yet too annoyed to go into the details. We’re usually always thinking about something. Right, ladies? Our thoughts can range from what’s for dinner to a business project, or what class assignment to help the kids with, or what to do over the weekend. We ponder heavier things like finances, health, a disagreement with a loved one, etc. The mind reels.
Some experts estimate that the average person thinks 50,000 thoughts per day. Others give a higher number: 60,000 - 70,000 thoughts per day. We. Are. Always. Thinking! So, how do we handle the barrage? How do we keep from drowning in a sea of contemplation? The key, in my opinion, is thought management. How are we managing the six inches between our ears?
If we’re not careful, we can get overwhelmed with all the things. There will always be something vying for our attention, so it’s important to learn to manage our thoughts. Though we can’t keep the thoughts from coming, we can take charge of the ones that ultimately impact our mindset. So much is determined by our mindset. More accurately, so much is predetermined by our mindset.
The word “mindset” is defined as “a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.” Fixed. Disposition. Predetermines. The whole definition is good, but the word that stands out to me the most is “predetermines”.
Are we (especially, with the heavier matters) analyzing, reanalyzing, and then overanalyzing? The things we choose to think about will establish our outcomes...in advance. Our thoughts determine our actions. Our actions determine our behaviors, and our behaviors determine the quality of our lives. In other words, what we think about, we bring about?
So, this begs the question again, what are you thinking about? What are you fixing your mind on? Are you thinking about the good things happening in your life, or are you constantly thinking about your shortcomings or what you feel is going wrong in your life? Are you thinking about what God promises you in His word, or are you thinking more about what the world around you is saying? Are you stressing about all the things you have on your plate, or are you committed to do what you can and leave the rest for the next day?
We can all benefit from managing our minds. Identifying an area for growth is the first step to improving it. Here are several simple ways to effectively manage your thoughts:
Manage Your Daily Inputs. What or who are you listening to daily? This includes songs, TV shows, books, etc. I’d say that many people know that a daily intake of negative news or derogatory speech is not helpful, but we should also be watchful of speech that is simply contrary to what Scripture says. The Bible should inform our minds, and it is replete with verses about our thoughts and what we should pay attention to. We are instructed to guard our hearts (or minds) above all else (Proverbs 4:23). It’s important to properly govern the information we receive, because it inevitably impacts our thinking.
Don’t Yield to Every Thought. This is a learned behavior for every follower of Christ, and it requires daily time in His Word. Again, though we can’t keep the thoughts from coming, we can manage what we do with those thoughts. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” To me, that says that we can control what we do with our thoughts. We cannot control other people and we can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control the thoughts we respond to.
Pray. Let’s not underestimate the power of prayer (James 5:16). Even one simple word to God can help redirect our thoughts. When your mind begins to wander, or you feel tempted to dwell on the negative or rehearse a situation, take a moment and talk to God about it. Ask Him to help you maintain His perspective. This leads to better outcomes.
Fixate on the Good. Let’s fix our minds on good things (Philippians 4:8) - things that create thoughts of joy and victory and not defeat, thoughts of hope and not despair, thoughts of plenty and abundance and not lack, thoughts that empower us rather than those that disempower. I’m not suggesting we keep our heads in the clouds or trivialize the rough patches we face. Though we may face rough patches, if we love God, He promises to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Practice doing the above. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s an exercise that will help us manage the six inches between our ears. Like most exercises, if we stick to it, we’ll get better over time. Remember our thoughts determine our actions. Our actions determine our behaviors, and our behaviors determine the quality of our lives.
“So, keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.” ~ Philippians 4:8 TPT
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