Disclaimer: I wrote most of this draft in January and just came back to see that I never finished it!! So much for the record (see below) 🙂
I’m about to set a record here- 3 posts in one month!
I don’t really have a ton to say here, other than I am feeling pretty optimistic about life right now (and secretly I want to set my record-haha). I am still getting used to Bluffton, still a bit sad that I can’t see my friends all the time now, but I don’t want to waste (more) time being sad and complaining – out loud OR in my mind- about where I live when people ask me how it is going down here.
One of my favorite books is The 4:8 Principle. My friend Jane Ann introduced it to me, and it’s one of those books that I should just put on a yearly rotation and make sure that I revisit often. The book is based on a scripture: Philippians 4:8, which says:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In a nutshell, think about the good things. I’m not saying to be in denial about real circumstances or live in la-la land and act like hard things don’t exist in life. But don’t dwell on negative circumstances and thoughts, or even worries about the future. Easier said than done right?
If we think negative things, aren’t we going to live a negative life ? For example, if I say to those around me, “well there’s not much to do here, and the beach is really far away”, it’s going to be a self fulfilling prophecy! After telling myself and my friends that time and again, I start to really embrace that belief as truth. I may resign myself to not making any friends here because there’s “nothing to do”, and start believing that the 30 minute drive is not worth the amazing breeze, the smell and sound of the ocean, and the feel of sand beneath my feet at the closest beach.
Honestly, I didn’t even know until a few years ago that the things that we think are a CHOICE. I believed that my thoughts just happened- consequently my attitudes just happened, and I was at the mercy of what my brain wanted to do and how it wanted to see things!
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I don’t recall the exact steps that we have to begin taking in order to control our thoughts. But the point is, IT’S POSSIBLE! One example I do remember from The 4:8 Principle is this: imagine you are at the circus. As one act ends, the tent darkens and a spotlight illuminates the gal walking the tightrope. All eyes are on her, focused on the spectacle. When her act is over, the tent brightens, and everything else in the ring has been completely changed and set up during the tightrope act. What you didn’t see as you watched the gal walk the tightrope were all of the crew, dressed in black, hurrying to disassemble the old props and put the new ones into place. Why didn’t you notice? Because the spotlight focused your attention on something other than what was going on in the shadows. Focus.
The thoughts that go through our mind don’t just happen to be there. We get to choose the things that we hold in our minds, the things that we focus on. Let’s face it, we are ALWAYS inside our own heads. It not easy to control our thoughts, or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, if you will, but that awareness of the choice we have is actually life-changing. Does it take practice? Definitely. Are negative thought patterns and habits hard to break? Absolutely! But in my very limited experience of this process- stopping a negative spiral, speaking words of truth to myself, replacing those negative thoughts- I have seen enough of a change in my own attitude and mental health – and therefore my trajectory in life!- to say YES it is worth the effort!