Clean Up Your Environment…


Much can be said about your environment and what you choose to live in each day. Some environments are healthy and serve to promote growth. Other environments are toxic and slowly eat away at your core. Dark and dreary spaces rob your heart of the sunshine of living. While bright and cheerful abodes freely admit fresh air and revitalization into your soul. Clutter and unattended to accumulation choke and stifle. Well placed and well intentioned objects promote peace.

Human minds, like your living room, must be meticulously maintained and well cared for. Failure to do so will eventually lead to anarchy. Every non-beneficial thought you let go of will soon gain ascendancy over your life. Every un-confronted  criticism, every darkening shadow, every unaddressed burden, every threat to your future will work together against you to suffocate your heart, rendering it callused and useless. Yet, most people only render a half consciousness regarding their thoughts and even less confidence in their ability to control them. Worse still, only a tiny majority recognize that the space in their heads is theirs and theirs alone to manage and if necessary, clean up.

I know it sounds trite and the expression is completely worn out, but you are the only you, you have got. Your mind is the command center of your life. Out from your mind, your heart come the issues of your life. I’ll say it another way. That which you think about the most; that which you dwell upon; that which you choose to faithfully consider is how your life turns out. That person you pity at your high school reunion who seems as if life has gotten the better of him isn’t so because of fate or bad luck, but rather because of a failure to protect his mental environment. If you knew how much your thoughts impacted your life, you wouldn’t be so frivolous concerning them. Every negative seed “the wind” blows in will, if left unattended, produce a weed. And like every good weed seeks to do, will eventually ruin your garden. Your lack of energy, your absence of enthusiasm, your perpetual feelings of fatigue are more from your mental environment than any lack of sleep.

The circumstances you encounter, the trials and the difficulties, the weighty burdens come not first but after. Your thinking is the primary cause. And while the world may be engulfed in evil, irritation, suffering and annoyance, you don’t have to be engulfed or submerged in it. There is a way out and that way out is found in changing your thoughts. Feeling negative and frustrated and futile are temptations which must be fought against. Submission to the negatives in life is like settling down in a filthy home that you have the capability to clean up. Clean up your environment. Locate the unwelcome guests one at a time and replace them one at a time. Your goal isn’t a vacuum (though you may need to vacuum). Your goal is replacement. You have to locate something that is wholesome, edifying and true to replace that which is unhealthy, damaging and false. But, do it you must!

It may seem like controlling your thoughts is an impossible task given the sheer speed and volume with which we think. But your task isn’t all of your thoughts, it is your next thoughts. When it comes to life, when it comes to your existence, when it comes to your personal experience, what are you saying to yourself? Are you being kind to yourself like you are to a dear friend, though despite his foibles, you continue to love? Are you exhibiting patience like you would offer to a child? Are you extending to yourself a new beginning; a thousand new beginnings, like you would to someone that you’ve determine to forgive? Are you? Or are you faithfully engaged in berating yourself, criticizing yourself, comparing and weighing yourself against others? The Instagram model whose body you have been coveting may have spent a lifetime cultivating it, yet there you are actually hating your own wonderful flesh in response to it. You see, the beginning of healthy thought begins with the things you think about yourself. Are you really such a bad person or are you perhaps much like everyone else; battling absurdities and weakness and errors, yet continuing on in spite of them?

Building up your mind, building up your heart takes time. You can’t expect to change a lifetime of wrong thinking overnight, just as you wouldn’t expect your body to show signs of change after the first few days of exercising. But persistence in controlling your mind will produce a lifetime of results. Controlling your thoughts doesn’t just consist of the things you say about yourself, but also comprises the things you say about your life, your relationships, your job, your boss, you name it. Every negative viewpoint, every false assumption, every rehearsed and expected failure you envision cannot help but to produce more after its kind. Maybe, just maybe your life sucks because that’s what you have been confessing for the past twenty years. Maybe you can’t catch a break because you don’t expect to catch a break and then somehow that is God’s fault. Your life is far, far from being destined or predetermined with our wonderful God having supplied you with the one thing you can control, if you really want to!

If you take nothing away from this but one solitary thing, know that your thinking is vitally and crucially important in determining how your life turns out. Clean up your environment. Don’t allow anything to remain that pains you or causes you to feel unrest. Banish fear and worry as both have failed miserably in preventing anything from happening. Cleanse and purify your estimation of yourself by refusing anything that makes you feel bad about yourself or lessens you in your own sight. Thinking good things, expecting good things, envisioning good things is no harder than doing the opposite with the only exception being breaking out of the things you have habitually practiced. It’s all right there for you folks if you will only take heed and do it… Clean up your mental environment!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Advertisements

What Came First, Your Thoughts or Your Results?


maxresdefaultRecently, I found myself embroiled in a Twitter battle with someone I don’t know and many others I don’t know over the topic of depression. A guy posted a little ditty about being depressed along the lines of, “if you’re depressed and you know it, clap your hands.” So I replied, tongue in cheek, with a similar ditty about changing your thoughts. Some recognized the levity, but quite a few others insisted on teaching me about depression and how it wasn’t that simple and show me some evidence that changing your thoughts can change brain chemistry and so on. Essentially the group argument consisted of well-intentioned people defending the chemical nature of depression and apparently the fact that your thoughts have nothing to do with it and even more incredulously, that there’s nothing you can do about it. So depression or any other mental malady, what came first, your thoughts or your results?

First let’s clarify one important reality. Yes depression, particularly clinical depression can be tracked to chemical changes in your brain. But, and hear me out on this one, to conclude that the depression you are experiencing has nothing to do with what you are thinking, is categorically nuts! If that was the case all of us would be potential victims to any mental malady that came our way and would be powerless against it. You’re living your life happy and blessed then boom, you spiral down into depression or anxiety or anything else that chooses you! Life does not work that way. However, if you are paying attention, you will recognize that the world will always have an excuse for you to stay trapped in your personal conundrum.  It will always have you draw some conclusion where you basically agree there is nothing you can do about what you are experiencing. The result? You end up actually defending your problem’s right to have power over you and have lots of science or other man-made intelligence supporting your beliefs. Your thoughts came first!

Depression begins with depressed thoughts. Anxiety begins with anxious thoughts. All known phobias began with fearful thoughts about something. Now stop right there. If what I just said pissed you off in some capacity, you have to ask yourself what it is you are defending. To think that your thoughts didn’t precede you present reality takes away your responsibility for your life and hands it over to someone or something else. The world is chock full of victims with well-rehearsed stories about how they don’t have a choice when actually they always have a choice. The choice with mental maladies, and by the way I’ve been there, is to control your thinking in the here and now. Is it really that simple? No, it’s not simple at all, especially if you have gotten yourself into some deeply grooved ruts! But, it is the only way out! You have to decide to think something else or stop thinking certain things, before you can even begin to see the way out. Wallowing in the chemical nature of your problem is simply resignation to defeat. Your thoughts came first!

In contrast to mental maladies and anything that pains or hinders our lives, let’s consider happy people or people who remain positive and hopeful about their lives. What do they do that maybe you don’t do? Are they really predetermined for success? Are they just the result of good fortune heaped on them randomly with no discernible reason why? The same world that spends considerable time with increasing evidence to convince you there is nothing you can do about your problems, also maligns and disparages being positive and reduces it to foolishness by implying positive people simply spout positive bullshit in contrast to their worsening issues. Really? Is that all that positive people do? In reality, positive, happy people experience the same garbage and conflict in life that you experience. The difference is that they fight back with their thoughts and refuse to surrender to science or anything else that chips away at their well-being. They can acknowledge that today was a freaking horrible day, but don’t expect tomorrow to be the same. When someone lays a rap on them that implies there is nothing they can do about something, they beg to differ over and over and over again. Your thoughts came first.

Part of controlling your thinking, and for the love of God it is something you can do or God wouldn’t ask you to do it, is to be cautious about what you take ownership of… Is it a disease or is it your disease? Is it depression or is it your depression? Just because a doctor gave it to you doesn’t mean you have to own it. I know, there I go again with my Pollyanna bullshit! I mean, the perfectly reasonable, logical thing to do is to accept your fate and get in line with the rest of the sheep following and cascading over the cliff to their own demise! Being realistic depends wholly on what you consider to be real. Science isn’t in opposition to God it’s of God (you smarties…). The opposition shows up when science, so-called, refutes what God says and makes it appeal to the ego of man who always knows more than he actually knows! If you and your scientific realities know the answer, then fix your issue and let’s get back to living. Alas, your thoughts came first!

One thing you can and should own is your own life! You certainly don’t need to own the negative assaults upon you day by day, but you can and should own your results. Own it! Accept where you are. Accept responsibility for the things that haven’t worked out. Taking ownership is always the starting point for any life revisions you may need. As you  put your hands firmly back on the wheel, you will discover that God has given you control if you are willing to take it! Say what you may my friends, your thoughts came first!

Just some good thoughts…

 

How Did I End Up Here?


bus-lane2_636250051617305266Have you ever, in a sudden flash of insight, wondered how in the hell did I end up here? All of us had our youthful fantasies where we were playing professional baseball or were the star actor in a hit movie. However choppy or obscure, all of us entertained some vague notions of how life would be for us in the future. Then, the future got here and it wasn’t exactly what we expected. For many folks it turned into a nightmare from which they are now seeking an escape. How did it happen? How did we end up here?

The short answer is, you were the one driving the bus! The longer answer is a little more tricky. The life that you are living today is a composite sketch you first outlined and then refined through days, months and years of thinking certain thoughts. Yes, my friend, you were driving the bus. Oh, I know it didn’t seem like you were always driving the bus. If anything it seemed like you were sometimes navigating the bus through difficult and confusing circumstances. Many days perhaps you were anxiously driving the bus with a death grip on the wheel, fearful of how things were going to turn out. At other times, for a myriad of reasons, you let someone else drive your bus trusting them to get you to a good destination. For years maybe you were not even aware that you are supposed to drive your own bus and just hoped with the rest of the world that God would somehow drive your bus for you if you were good to people and weren’t too much of a dick or something… But no matter the reasons, even the compelling good reasons, you are responsible to drive your own bus and choose your own destinations!

I believe that we all, on occasions, find ourselves scratching our heads at how we turned out to be exactly like our fathers or suffer from the same issues as our mothers, though we swore we never would. We didn’t realize that the same crap that got to them would eventually get to us as well. In our youthful wisdom, we didn’t see it coming, just like they didn’t see it coming. In reality it wasn’t our propensity to fall for the same mistakes that defeated us or even inherited weaknesses in the gene pool that got us. What got us; what defeated us; what we failed to see was “it,” manipulating behind the scenes and causing us to drive our buses in the wrong damn direction! All that precious time we spent focusing on things we didn’t want, left us driving on a road we didn’t choose, leading to a destination we do not like. You want to know how you got here? This is how you got here! The sooner you decide to take your keys back the better.

Aside from the incessant and persistent manipulation and every other force that drives us away from our best lives, there is another far more subtle power at work, also based on fear but far less obvious. This perennial  flat tire to our happiness is the overworked and overused, insane, dishonest, “I have to please everyone else” mentality that seems noble but in reality is a cruelty afflicting both who you are and who you could ever hope to be! This slippery wrench in the works convinces you to make choices that aren’t really your choices in favor of playing it safe or protecting your family or whatever other bullshit you have been confessing to yourself to rationalize bad decisions and miserable circumstances. Your age, your income, your bad knees, your upbringing, your momma, your spouse all have nothing to do with your capacity; even your necessity to change your thoughts and slowly but surely change your life. You are no more stuck than the energy it takes to say so. None of us are ever truly mired in life’s circumstances, no matter how they present themselves. What we become stuck in is a wrong belief playing itself out over a thousand iterations. Change the flat tire!

How your life has played out thus far is a product of your own making and once you are finally able to own that, you can climb confidently back into the driver’s seat and chart a new course; one that you sought after on purpose. Refusing to own your part in this grand drama leaves you as the victim, pitifully wasting away your one short go-round, waiting for someone or something to change your scenario; change your course for you. No matter how bad things may have gotten for you, you still know what you enjoy, right? You still know what good looks and feels like, right? It may surprise you to know that God Himself, with all of His limitless power and ability, can only take you as far as you are willing to go. His job isn’t to drive you to your future destination. He made you the bus driver. Instead He can only encourage you through crazy blog-writers who have the audacity to repeat what His Word says, hopefully in ways that you can understand!

You think countless thoughts within the space of a day. Why not take a breath and find out what some of those thoughts are and then challenge them if they don’t fit the image of what you want for your life. Just because you thought a thought doesn’t make it true. Good bus drivers have to wrestle all of those unruly thoughts into submission and in doing so take over the wheel of their own ride.

However you got here to this moment in time only proves your history thus far. Your future is something you are planning for today by the thoughts you entertain the most. Recognize how big of a deal those little thoughts really are and work with the system people!

By the way, I’m glad you got here… 😉

Just some good thoughts.

 

 

It’s Your Fruit…


oranges-1117628_1280.jpgWhenever I see someone really living the life riding in the high places of the earth, after I change my mind to stop ‘hatin’ a little, I have tremendous admiration for them. I admire them because I know they have believed to be who they are and where they are and have received the results of their believing. LeBron James believed to be LeBron James. Sure he came from the factory gifted with size and natural ability, but this whole “King James” business was his own idea. You can apply this with breathtaking accuracy to any successful person you see. You can also apply this with the same mathematical exactness to any failure you might observe, even your own. The life that you are living at this very moment in time is the result of those thoughts and beliefs you have held dear. Your frustrations, your sufferings, your pains have all come about as a result of what you have believed and continue in accordance with those beliefs. The results in your life, good or bad, are your fruit and by your fruit you are known!

It’s such a tragedy that so many people limp through life reacting to circumstances for which they have unknowingly believed. They do not want those circumstances but their thoughts and beliefs encourage them instead of thwarting and slaying them! The world, with all of its negativity, works you over day by day, without your consent or even your awareness. It’s feeding you messages of struggle and defeat while at the same lauding celebrities famous for being famous. It looks like the things you so desperately need are too hard or too far away. The goal? Talking you into settling for less than the best and accepting mediocrity and failure. Here’s a simple experiment. Read the following statement: You deserve the very best in life. Say it out loud to yourself! “You deserve the very best in life, Tony!” Now, be honest and observe your reaction to that statement. Where did your mind trim that back a little? “Well, I don’t need the best, but pretty good will work.” Or maybe you don’t feel you deserve the best. Or is it too late now for you to receive the very best? Whatever your mind came up with in opposition to that statement, is a lie; a wrong belief, that limits your success. Why wouldn’t you as the only you, you have, deserve the very best expectations from you for you? Don’t make this about God. This is about you in the realm that you control!

While you may find yourself a bit defeated in this life or maybe you have had some wind taken out of your sails, be encouraged and comforted in this, namely that you can change your thoughts and thus change, remedy or repair your life. You’re going to need God’s help, but trust me, His first expectation from you is for you to change your thoughts. He’s really, really, really good at His job, but He isn’t going to do your job no matter how much you pray! Change your mind. You determine the speed and pace in which your life transforms. Radical life changes require radical thought changes. You see, this thought thing is so much larger than you may have imagined before. I’m not talking about thinking something positive from time to time, I’m talking about monitoring and reshaping your thoughts throughout a day, day after day, one day at a time. Find something true from God’s Word that you can use to counter the darkness. Then seriously and diligently work on it!

Circumstances are not lined up against you, they’re lined up against all of us. The difference lies only in what you will and will not accept as true. Things are not true because they look true or seem true or are factually true, they are true if God says they are true. In similar fashion, you are not who you might see in the mirror, chubby or slim, or the results you have obtained in this life, or your successes or your failures, your mistakes or your good deeds. You are who God says you are, no exceptions! The only way to break the chains of previous results and former losses is to view yourself and your life in an entirely new light. No matter how it may look, you have control over those circumstances, albeit indirectly.

The fruit evident in your life at this very moment, delightful or rotten, is of your own making and owned entirely by you. Your life is like a full feature movie with you as the producer. You are the one deciding upon the beginning, the middle and the ending. You can write a dramatic success story or you can write a sorrowful saga. But, make no mistake, you are the writer, the editor, the producer! You may choose to modify your story or you can choose to ride the waves of circumstance. If you just go with the flow, then the flow may take you places you didn’t want to go. How many times have you heard someone say, “I didn’t think my life would end up this way.” The only way your life ends up in a place you didn’t choose is by turning over the reigns of choice and control to someone or something else. No action, no directed and focused thought is also an action, a passive one leading away from and not towards your dreams.

This incredibly short life with all of its ups and downs is one vast classroom whereby you may decide to learn how it works and modify yourself to fit within the existing framework or you can continue to fight against the circumstances you created and blame God, the culture, the economy, your momma or whatever else neatly takes away responsibility from yourself! The choice is yours my friend. The choice has always been yours…

Just some good thoughts…

What Do You Do With Your Mind When No-One is Watching?


self-confidenceI’m sure you’ve heard older people say, “I may be older, but inside my mind is still the same!” Well, I can attest to this in terms of feeling young inside, but I can assure you, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Your current mind is a beautiful, jumbled composite of a million thoughts, feelings, experiences and ideas. Your mind, in all of its magnificent glory, is just that…your mind. And from your private, mental sanctuary proceeds your life, happy or sad; vital or depressed; inspired or glum; blessed or cursed. So, the million dollar question is, what do you do with your mind when no-one is watching?

If you think about it, when it comes to your mind, no-one is ever watching, well, except you that is… You are watching, listening, initiating, processing, discussing and even arguing. The experience of your life, the manifestation of it is in direct proportion to your thoughts. If your thoughts suck, you suck. If your thoughts thrive, you thrive. Your life isn’t a mess and then you have to think about it. Your life is a mess because of what you think about. The converse is just as true.

You do realize that the starting point for change is always an acknowledgment of the part you play in your life drama. As long as the responsibility for change rests with something (anything) else, your life will never change. As long as you allow your thoughts to stink is as long as your life will stink. It’s that big. It’s that important. If you are willing to at least consider that, then please keep reading.

Hmmm… Okay, here’s a thought. What kind of things do you say to yourself? What do you tell yourself about yourself? What do you say? Are you critical? Do you spend your days pining away condemning yourself, immersed in self-evaluation? Really? Does anyone who engages in that type of self-evaluation ever come up with a favorable outcome? When you look in the mirror, do you like the image that you see? Or, are you ugly? My brief experience on earth has taught me that pretty really is an inside job and when the inside is sweet, the exterior finds a way to follow suit. Do you doubt yourself? Do you entertain thoughts of inferiority? Are you not smart, sexy, funny? Are you boring, lackluster or lacking energy? You pick the negative, the oddity, the flaw. The point is, you chose the thought or at least to entertain it. You allowed it to live. You did. It is no more true than any other thought is true. But, for you it is true.

You may have never seen it before, but those thoughts you allow; that you live your life by are all the difference between heaven and hell. The world and all of its wonderful inhabitants are all living or not living in accordance with the same rule. No-one is exempt. School didn’t teach you this. Your parents probably didn’t know it. It’s a jewel of inestimable value. Within it lives the life you have always imagined, but not yet realized. Knowing it and thus cooperating with it will give you all you ever need; to be everything you ever wanted to be. It’s not fate or a decision God made without your consent. It isn’t your upbringing or environment or socioeconomic status. It’s not your college degree or lack thereof. It’s you and what you choose to think about. Oh you can hide it from the world. You can buck up and put on a smile. You can hide it, mask it and cover it, but you can never escape it, for it is you and what you’ve chosen to believe about yourself.

You talk about riddles… You determine how your life turns out by what you think about and your life turns out without you even thinking about it. Well, you do think, but what you think isn’t what you want.

I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to figure this out. Life isn’t happening to you, you are happening to life. You’re choosing the result! Stop waiting and watching and hoping and wishing. The life you want so bad will not show up without your consent. Your consent follows your thoughts and beliefs, not your wishes. You are not going to win the lottery. No ship is coming in. The opportunity, the life changing event, happens not by chance but in accordance with your expectations rehearsed in your mind, faithfully over time.

Nothing about your life (and mine) is unchangeable, unless you think otherwise. No obstacle cannot be overcome, unless you already made up your mind. No goal is unattainable, unless of course, you know better.

The thoughts you have grown so accustomed to and accept as your reality may just be the fly in your ointment. What you worked so hard to convince yourself of as true, may not be true after all. Your estimation of who you are and where you fit, may be woefully misguided. If it’s true that your life follows your thoughts, then the least you could do is think thoughts that actually help you rather than hinder you. How sad that you could go through life and not even be on your own side, when you only have your own one life. How very sad…

Stop berating yourself and condemning yourself and devaluing yourself. Stop lowering yourself to second and third class citizen status. In God’s sight, your life matters just as much as every other person’s life matters. And, if you want to make Him smile, start seeing yourself as He does. There’s a whole world waiting for you on the other side of the self-doubt and when you find it, you’ll be thankful for a lifetime…

Just some good thoughts…