I’ve mentioned before that a few years ago when I was in the depths of darkness, there were two books that changed my life and my way of thinking. I would be so bold as to say not only changed, but saved. When I made the decision, “I want to be a joy thinker,” I searched for resources that would encourage and support that decision!
The first resource for my new found, “I want to be a joy thinker” attitude was a book, The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life came into my life when I needed some help retraining my mind. This book, along with my Bible was key in my recovery from rotten, negative and even dangerous thinking habits.
The 4:8 Principle, along with its companion book, 40 Days to a Joy-filled Life, helped me realize I needed to become a joy thinker, not just someone who wanted to be happy. It helped me realize all the counseling in the world wasn’t going to change my thinking, only I could that, using the tools I was learning.
I had to be active in this process of retraining my mind, and this retraining was a process, not an overnight success. I had to face the fact that if I didn’t start putting the hard work in changing my thoughts, at the very least, I was going to be miserable for the rest of my life.
Friends, at the time I was in my late 30’s early 40’s and I still had a lot of life left. The thought of spending it being miserab…well it made me miserable!
What Am I Thinking About?
My Bible challenged me to “Think what I was thinking about.” Not only that, but it also made me woefully aware of all the junk I was taking in mentally. I enjoyed Tommy Newberry’s analogy of our minds as a computer. You’ll find this on page 44-45 in the book The 4:8 Principle.
“In many ways, your brain works like a computer. When you receive positive or negative input about yourself, your store it in your subconscious mind and later express those messages in your feeling and behaviors…Unless you are taught to reject the negative messages, you will tend to accept them as truth.”
I liked how he goes on to relate this truth with the scriptures;
“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”
“Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
I believe these verses and Tommy’s descriptions are crucial ponderings, especially for mothers–not only for ourselves but for our children as well. We cannot give what we do not have. And mommas, I have not had it and I fought HARD to get it back or learn it new!
We cannot teach and train our children to live joy-filled lives if we are ourselves are joy-less. We cannot enjoy our children if we do not have joy. I need to be a joy thinker not only for myself but for my children as well.
Now, this does not mean we need to be all Mary Poppins, all the time. I don’t know about you, but that does not describe me, my temperament, or my personality at all. I naturally have a more melancholic temperament. *(If you have never read about the 4 Temperaments, you should! It is fascinating and a means to better understand yourself, your spouse and children especially. Here are a couple books I have read or are in my ‘Need to read’ wishlist: The Temperament God Gave You, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids.)
The great news is, I can learn to be a joyful person even if it doesn’t naturally come to me. Grace and virtue my friends, grace, and virtue coupled with a sincere friendship with God will get us anywhere.
My Words Will Reflect My Thoughts
If I speak in the negative or even just in the “blah” it reveals how I feel about myself, my life and my vocation. Not only will my children pick up those thinking habits, but they may also even think they are the cause of them.
And to make matters worse, the more negative thoughts I have, the more negative I become. And the longer I think negative thoughts, the longer it will take to root them out. Negative thinking eventually becomes a deeply ingrained habit. Science had shown, our thoughts can literally change our brains!
“I have to do the dishes again,” said in a very Eeyore-like manner. “I’m not a good cook…My clothes never fit…I’ll never learn to cook a good meatloaf…This always happens to me (us)…Why me?… I guess I’ll always/never…I am–I struggle with—I’ve always been…”
Do you see? Can you just hear the joy void in those phrases above? Blech! Don’t they start to make you feel icky just reading them? How many of you started nodding your head in agreement? This is one of the reasons I hate the labels we put on ourselves–fat, grumpy, tired, overwhelmed, etc.
Did I tell you about the time I was listening to the radio and they said the next song was “Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Weave. “Oh, God, you are so good to me,” I thought. “Here I am so overwhelmed I could just cry and then give up and here You are, playing a song that speaks about what I’m going through.” It really was a sweet moment.
And then the song started playing. And the Holy Spirit let me know in another ‘Kapow’ kind of way, “Not everything is about you, Jenny.” See, the song “Overwhelmed” is all about God–not Jenny.
I Found Hope and Healing
Can you see I was in a bad way to put it nicely and mildly? I had to change.
When I got a hold of the truth found in my Bible and started reading The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life, one of the first things I quit saying was, “I’m a worrier.” I’m not sure who or when that started; I had heard it and repeated it all my life. It doesn’t matter who or when it started, I kept it going, “Well, you know I worry…I’m just a worrier…I’ve worried all my life…”
One day I decided, “Why would I label myself that way?” I started thinking to myself, “If I can call myself a worrier, why can’t I call myself a truster just as easily?” (Yes, I know “truster” is not technically a word, but it worked and still works for me.) Just that slight change in wording made a small improvement in my thinking and eventually a big change in me.
You know something I tell myself now, “I’m not a runner.” Why can’t I be a runner? They make good sports bras and if I go to the bathroom first–thank you 7 healthy pregnancies that resulted in 7 fat babies–who knows? The point is, I make a conscious effort to speak kindly to myself now. I try to speak to myself the way I would speak to others.
If there’s something I can’t do now, that doesn’t mean I can’t ever do it, right? Now I realize there are some things I may not be able to do, ever. But there are so many other things I can do and those are the things I choose to speak to myself.
My hope and healing came through reading and meditating on the truth so I could recognize the lies and tell ’em to get lost! It took time to retrain my mind and mouth but wow, what a difference some time makes! I still have to remind myself occasionally, but it’s pretty easy to get back on track because the good, true and beautiful are now my habit.