Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Disciplined Thought Life

“We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.”

“The ancestor of every action is a thought”

“What we think about when we are free to think about what we will – that is what we are or will soon become.”

In order to discipline myself I need to discipline my mind.  This is a fundamental truth that I have often missed.  Yes, action is required, but action is often followed by a thought.  The thought may be –
·      It’s time to get to work.
·      I’m excited about doing my work.
·      I don’t feel like doing my work, but I’m going to do it anyway.
·      There are people counting on me to begin and finish my work well.
·      I love my work.

There are also thoughts that prevent us from doing our work.  These thoughts may be –
·      I can do my work later.
·      I don’t feel like doing my work.
·      My work is too difficult.
·      My work doesn’t make any difference or have any meaning.
·      No one notices or appreciates my work.
·      I hate my work.
·      I hate my life.
·      I hate myself.

Everything, everything, springs from the thought life.  All my perceptions and habits, our likes and dislikes, our loves and prejudices, everything. 
This is why it’s important to discipline the thought life then, and to guard our thoughts.  I think there are only a few thoughts we actually need to have and the rest we can do without.  In no particular order, they are
1.     Thoughts of creativity.
2.     Thoughts of gratitude.
3.     Thoughts of worship or praise.
4.     Thoughts of love.

Creative thoughts include but are not limited to the following:
·      Uplifting humor or wit.
·      Problem solving, whether it is personal, professional, scientific or educational.
·      Any creative endeavors, including art, writing or dance.
·      Working with children.
·      Anything that strengthens a relationship.
·      Counseling.

Thoughts of gratitude are just that: being grateful for life, including setbacks, failures or disappointments.  Thoughts of gratitude require one thing – awareness of all the good that is in one’s life and has been good.  It can also include things that we haven’t thought to be grateful for, such as almost everything.  This includes the everyday things such as health, reliable transportation and our possessions.
Thought of praise and worship require focusing on God and all He has done, is doing and will do.  It is also recognizing Him for who He is – a loving, patient and merciful God.  These thoughts can be expressed through prayer or song.
Finally there are thoughts of love, love for God, family, friends and the world.  There is also love for those with whom we work for or with.  There is love of nature and all that is good in the world.  Love is closely related to gratitude.
I think if I focus my thought life in any or all of these areas, I won’t have trouble staying peaceful and joyful.  Managing the thought life is a discipline, as are all good things.  It’s not an impossible one though.  All I have to do is Get Started and Keep Going…and think right.