Master Your Thoughts and Change Your Life

Master Your Thoughts and Change Your Life

You're full of it! Now, that's not a very gentlemanly way to begin a conversation, is it? Bear with me a moment and let me explain.


Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came that mink lashes we might have life and have it more abundantly. Abundant living is Extraordinary Living. The good news is that it is available to everyone regardless of their race, face, or place. One of the keys, to living an extraordinary life is learning to control our minds and what we allow it to be filled with. In fact our minds may be a primary key to the whole process.


Someone much wiser and more spiritual than I got us thinking about all of this nearly 2000 years ago. He was the Apostle Paul. He said in one of his ancient writings in scripture that we could "be transformed by the renewing of our minds" (Romans 12:2). I don't know how you feel about it but that is a pretty powerful thought. But how does this kind of renewal happen?


One of the ways we begin the process of renewing our minds has to do with attitudes. Do you know that attitude is a choice? Our choices of attitude, either good or bad, eventually become habit. Eventually that habit creates a pattern of living that affects our whole life. Positive attitude - positive life. Negative attitude - negative life. So it's very important to get our attitudes right from the beginning so that our life patterns are also right. Sometimes, though, this is all easier said than done.


Usually our trouble is that we all allow the circumstances of life to affect our attitudes rather than letting our attitudes affect our circumstances. Being controlled by the events of our lives is kind of like riding a rollercoaster. Life becomes a series of up and downs - of steep climbs and dangerous free-falls. We all know that life is full of ups and downs. "That's life," we say. And it's true. But how do we keep those circumstances from controlling the way we think? Let's go back to Paul for our answer.


The great apostle prayed in Ephesians 3:19 that his readers might be "filled with all the fullness of God." One of the grand goals of Christianity and the source of extraordinary living is to fill ourselves with God. The word for "filled" generates the idea of being dominated by something. If you are filled with rage, then rage will dominate your life. If you are filled with love, then love dominates your life. If you are filled with joy, then joy dominates your life. When you are filled with God, then God himself will dominate your life. So the question of the hour is, "What are you full of?" Maybe a better question might be, "What are you allowing yourself to be filled with?"


I keep referring back to Paul because I think he is a stellar example of someone who was able to control his mental attitude mostly because he was filled with the fullness of God. Reading his following words clearly prove my point:


I have...been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. {24} Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. {25} Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, {26} I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. {27} I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. {28} Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. {29} Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? {30} If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. {31} The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. {32} In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. {33} But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands...

2 Corinthians 11:23-33 (NIV)


What makes this account even more stunning is that Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:11 that he had "learned to be content in all things." How could he do that? It seems he chose to have a positive attitude. His ability to follow through with this positive choice hinged on the fact that he was filled full of God.


Do you want to gain control over your thoughts? Here are some practical tools to get you thinking in the right direction:


  1. Change what you think so you can change the way you think.


Perhaps the first step, then, in mastering your thoughts is simply to choose to change what you allow yourself to think. This in turn changes the way you think, which leads to a more positive and constructive way of living ... Extraordinary Living. This may mean changing your reading habits or the entertainments you view.


  1. Evaluate who you are thinking with?


Someone once said "you can't soar with the eagles when you're scratching around with the turkeys." How true that is. The reality is that some people can be so negative and critical that if we spend too much time around them, we can begin to act like them ourselves.


  1. Maintain a positive perspective.


One time a small boy was pretending to be a professional baseball player. He affirmed, "I'm the greatest batter in the world," after which he tossed the ball in the air and took a swing as it descended. "Strike One!" Before tossing the ball in the air a second time, he again affirmed, "I'm the greatest batter in the world." Again, the boy swung at the ball as it rapidly descended. "Strike Two!" A third time the boy stated, "I'm the greatest batter in the world," and tossed the ball in the air for the third time. Once again the boy swung and missed. "Strike Three!" As he gathered up his glove, baseball and bat and headed for home he said to himself, "Well how about that, I'm the greatest pitcher in the world."


Disciplining ourselves to maintain a positive perspective is one of the best ways to manage our thought processes. Napoleon Hill said that every adversity brings with it the "seed of an equivalent benefit."


  1. Expect the Best


Too often we go through life subconsciously expecting the worse. The reality is that when we expect bad things to happen, they inevitably occur. Rather than expecting the worse from people or circumstances, anticipate that the best will take place. And when it does, celebrate. And if it doesn't, find at least one small thing to celebrate and give it all you have. The choice is ours, every single day, in what attitude we will embrace.


  1. Quite the blame game


If there is one thing that can prevent us from Extraordinary Living, it is being shackled by bitterness, resentment and blame. So much mental and emotional energy is expended on defensiveness, self-righteousness, revenge and vindication that nothing is left for any productive output. The truth of the matter is that the only one suffering from the silent battle going on inside us is ... well, us.


Most of us have probably heard the analogy that holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison ourselves and expecting the other person to die. In fact, it's been said that a man who refuses to forgive destroys the bridge over which he himself must one day cross.


Choose today to forgive and then move on with your life. Do not let the past determine your present and your future. Take control today.


If we are to live life extraordinarily, we must take control of our minds. It begins with what we are filled with. Paul was filled with God and it changed the way he thought for the rest of his life. The same can be true for each of us. Master your thoughts and you're guaranteed to change your life for the better.