I’ve been writing about recognizing how critical our thoughts are, and how we can embrace the fact that we are masters of our own minds. Yes, this was inspired by an Adam Sandler flick. And yes, at some points it was full Sandler. But in between those points it drove home what happens when we relinquish control over our minds and ultimately our lives: Accepting the worst instead of fighting for our best.
Hopefully you’ve been reading along since early March, but if not these may be inspiring also:
The last post was about the importance of centering your thoughts… And now, we get into the how of all this.
Years ago, I was confronted with a dilemma: A conflict I needed to resolve. It involved repeated trips to a car mechanic for the same unresolved problem. FYI, in my former life I was a people-pleaser and perfectionist of the most exceptional kind.
So of course, I reasoned ever-so-politely with the mechanic to no avail. I left in tears feeling helpless and abused. Frustrated, I called my dad, who seems sometimes to revel in pissing people off, and whose approach to conflict resolution is more sledgehammer or automatic weapon than loving, reasoned debate. He and my mom are peas in a pod in that regard.
He offered to go back to that dealership and tear them a new one.
As he fired himself up to help I realized the sledgehammer wasn’t necessary: Not for the situation, nor for me. I realized I could deal with this conflict in my own way even though I had no model to look to. I went back to the dealer and got what I wanted. No hollering. Just firmness, clarity, persistence.
Years later, my husband-to-be encouraged me in this, telling me to “stand your ground, speak the truth, and hold your peace.” (He’s awesome.) I’ve since added some unconventional weaponry like singing, hugs, prayer and service to the mix… More on that another day.
We don’t grow up with the models for how we should tackle life through action: No one is perfect. And we don’t always have anyone there to explain to us how each thought leads to every action, good or bad: No one is a mind-reader.
Instead, we have models of the actions that come from someone else’s habitual thinking and mind in need of renewal: In our parents, teachers, professors, coworkers, lovers, friends, siblings, leaders, strangers and even characters in films, television shows and stories we read.
So where do we turn?
When you know this thinking thing needs to get right, and are ready to try, it’s not good enough for someone to point to the Dalai Lama, or Albert Einstein, or even Jesus… And instruct you to think like them, be like someone else.
That’s like telling someone stuck in quicksand crying for help to look at the top of Mount Fiji and just move: “You can do it!”
Not only is the goal impossibly far away… Every move you make to get there pulls you deeper into your own habitual thinking. The deeper you get, the less you can move.
Haven’t you ever gotten great advice and somehow, applied it the wrong way? That’s because when our minds aren’t renewed they’re are a lot like malfunctioning machines: A virus-infected computer. Nothing responds right.
That’s why lofty, seemingly unattainable advice without practical immediate steps may feel so discouraging.
A lot of the time, you don’t just need to see the mountain top, you need to grab a hold of something right next to you.
You need a bridge from where you are to where you’re headed.
That’s what this is about: You have everything you need already to get started, you just have to embrace that it won’t look like what you’ve seen before… But it’ll be good.
Try these simple daily steps for just a week and see whether your thinking, your life changes:
- Ask yourself whenever you can: Am I thinking about something that at the end, is good? Or bad? And is it simple or complicated? Truth, and renewed thinking is always good, always simple.
- Every morning first thing, pray for protection over your thoughts. Pray for newness, a new mind, fresh you. Pray to see what your life is really, truly about: purpose. And… Pray blessings for any and everything you hold negativity toward. That could be the gubmint, media, a childhood frenemy… Even yourself.
- Last, every day, read a proverb:“For gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.“
Sounds good, huh? Straight from the Bible. I said it. And refused to read, much less own a bible until a few years ago. But I couldn’t deny the truth in proverbs, the simplicity of them. Reading them daily helps to remodel your thinking around the truth.
Truth is always good, always simple.
Time to start thinking like it.