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About three years ago I was watching a self-help video (I know, I know).
During the presentation there was a segment on positive thinking. The presenter talked about our thinking habits and how negative thinking can suck the life out us and how it can also hold us back from being the person we were put on this earth to be.
It opened my eyes to my own thinking habits. Negative thinking was never a problem in my life growing up but as time wore on and the cares of this life took its toll on me negative thoughts crept in and because I didn’t put up much of a fight I allowed them to take over my thinking patterns.
To the outside world I was able to appear happy and on top of things. I knew how to act and what to say at the right times. To those that were not close to me I must have come across as a well-bred gentleman with a winning smile and charming personality. But to my family I am sure I was not easy to be around especially my dear wife who took the brunt of my negativity.
Life became a chore, my days were difficult to get through and my mind became my own worst enemy.
For the first time I not only came face to face with my negative thinking problem but there was something I could do about it. The presenter presented a challenge.
Think positively about everything from morning till night for 30. Turn every negative thought into a positive one. Become more aware of our thought patterns and be in a position to be able to do something about negativity.
I took up the challenge.
The morning of the first day, for once being acutely aware of my thoughts, I was shocked at how negative in my world seemed to me. In the beginning I was more like a boxer trying to get out-of-the-way of my opponents punches. I was faced with an impossible task .
Getting through those first few days was a monumental challenge. It would have been so easy to give up and go back to my old way of thinking. Letting my mind just get back to its more comfortable negative world was not looking too bad. It would have been so much easier. In fact it had become my comfort zone.
I persisted. As each day passed I realized that I didn’t have to struggle so much when hit with a negative thought. Being aware that I was having a negative thought was a success in itself.
Then I learned to not try to stop the negative thoughts but when they came into my head instantly replace it with a good thought. The idea was not to try to not have negative thoughts but replace them with good thoughts.
The morning I woke up thinking good thoughts, I knew I was on the road to a positive mind.
At the end of thirty days I was a new man. Maintaining positive thoughts became a new paradigm in my life. It wasn’t something I had to strive for. Life took on a whole new adventure for me.
The old adage stands strong, “you don’t have to chase the darkness out, just let the light in”
Fast forward three years.
Recently my dear wife Rhonda shows me a quote she found on Facebook. I’m paraphrasing here, “think positive thoughts for one day and watch your life change.” Subtle hint from my better half? Not sure, I didn’t ask but it was enough of a nudge to get me thinking about my mind again.
Yes, I had somehow allowed those negative thoughts back into my life. Not as drastic but enough to cause me some concern.
I assessed my positive/negative balance needle at about 50-50. Sometimes 60-40 and sometimes 40-60.
Fifty fifty is just not good enough. It would be the equivalent of letting your engine idle in neutral and pushing down on the accelerator. You may not go backwards but you are not going to go forwards either. Stagnation, my mind was standing still.
I needed a mental tune up.
So I have decided to take up the challenge again. A thirty day feast of positive thinking to get my mind, my heart and my soul back in sync.
Just remember Sammy, don’t try to force out the darkness (negative thoughts), just replace them with the light (positive thoughts).
A tried and proven formula for a positive mind.
If you have lived long enough for God you most likely would have experienced what it was like to give away your birthright as Esau did for a breakfast or being like Jacob, selfish and deceitful not having enough love to give his own brother something to eat without wanting something in return. No, not just a “you owe me one” but the promise of Esau’s birthright, the blessing Esau was to automatically receive from his father for being the first-born.
Maybe you have even experienced both. I know I have. I have not always acted in love when there was a need even in my own family, wanting something in return, not always giving because it’s the right thing to do but sometimes having an ulterior motive. I have also given up my birthright, that special calling or gift that God’s gives to each of us by wanting to pursue “other” more enticing things the world had to offer. Giving up my god given birthright to experience the ways of the world.
The good thing is this, we live in a period of grace. God forgives, he forgets and our mistakes are erased, forever. But the way back can be long, hard and relentless. We all have to pay the price for our decisions and actions. In this world if you break the laws of man,you pay the price if you get caught. You can also pay the price by knowing deep down within your heart that God has by his own laws that he can hold back his blessings until things are made right.
When Jacob was encouraged by his mother Rebecca to run away from home and hide and take up refuge with his mother’s brother Laban. It was on the back of taking what Jacob thought was owed to him when Esau gave up his birthright.
He knew Esau would be furious as Esau went to his father for the blessing of being the first-born. Isaac asked Esau to kill and prepare his favorite meal of venison. You know the story.
Rebecca and Jacob deceived Isaac in to believing that Jacob was Esau and got the blessing of the first-born. Jacob then fled for his life and for 21 years became the virtual slave to a more deceitful man than himself.
At the same time as Esau lost the blessing of the first-born which he gave away so easily not respecting its place he also went his way. They both learned and became rich in their own ways eventually coming together, forgetting the past and making things right with each other and effectively God.
If we have been an Esau or a Jacob you can bet your life on it that God will get his due out of us. It may take much longer than you would like but if you stick with it and learn and grow in the way that is needed you too will be blessed beyond what we deserve.
I know I am on the long road back and as I have stuck it out by faith only having the promises of God to keep me going (and a loving and understanding wife) God has started to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessing more than I deserve or prayed for.
There is a light at the end of each tunnel.