“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4: 8, King James Version of the Bible.
Almost two thousand years ago, the apostle, Paul, dictated these words of wisdom to Epaphroditus to be delivered to his fellow Christians at Philippi. He himself was imprisoned in Rome at the time, yet he took every opportunity to communicate with and encourage members of the churches which he had planted.
Focusing our minds on good things, positive things, takes effort and perseverance. Many of us tend to let the problems we encounter daily linger in our minds instead of reflecting on the good things happening around us. We have only to watch the evening news on television to know that crises and disasters are the items that grab people’s attention. However, continually dwelling on negative things can lead to a downward spiral of stress, loss of hope and depression.
What are the benefits of positive thinking? The Mayo Health Clinic’s website which encourages patients to manage stress and recover from depression have this to say:
“Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress”
How do we change the way we think? Personally I find reading a portion of my Bible every morning and using a daily devotional booklet gives my mind and spirit a great boost for the day. I have also found that writing out an uplifting quote and attaching it to a place where I will see and read it often is a constant source of encouragement.
Strategies suggested by the Mayo Clinic to change negative thinking into positive thinking are:
- Identify areas to change. (Choose an area of your life about which you constantly think negatively)
- Check yourself. (Stop and evaluate your thoughts at different times of the day and if they are negative, try to change them into positive)
- Be open to humour. (Look for the funny side)
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. (Plenty of exercise and healthy food)
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Practice positive self-talk. (Suggestions are given on page 2 of the article for how to reframe a negative thought as a positive thought).
The problems we encounter each day are real and demand our attention, but thinking positively about ourselves and trusting in the God who loves us enable us to focus on seeking solutions. Thinking on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy, is a daily discipline which can bring peace and joy into our lives.