Healthy Mind

ADA-Website-Mental-Health-770x400-1The topic of health has become increasingly more prominent in the minds and hearts of people due to some fantastic advances in terms of medicine and medications. Yet, often missed in our quest for better health is the condition of our minds. More and more people are experiencing mental health issues ranging from anxiety to depression which may have even reached clinical levels without really understanding the importance of mental health maintenance in terms of how we think and continue to think. Just as there are lifestyle choices that lead to unhealthy bodies, there are also ways of thinking that result in unhealthy minds. Unhealthy thoughts indulged in and repeated produce in us all manner of difficulties and troubles. Yet, we continue on blindly, never considering that we are always responsible for what we choose to think, healthy or unhealthy, whole or sick, helpful or hurtful. In order to live our lives successfully, we need to learn how to have a healthy mind.

Of all the great, foundational things you may have learned in school, how much of that learning was devoted to “how to think” or “what to think?” Thinking is something people just take for granted and wrongly conclude that it doesn’t have much impact on their life. Instead of endeavoring to learn what and how to think, they just sort of let their thoughts run like a boat on the river driven with the currents. Their expectation is that good thoughts simply appear based on sunny circumstances and bad thoughts must be endured until the storms of life have subsided. The deception carries with it the idea that people have no control over their thoughts. It’s as if thoughts are something that occur despite the person doing the thinking. It is as if thoughts have a certain truth to them and must be accepted as they are; where they are; in the manner in which they present themselves. In this, people unknowingly subject themselves to misery by the thoughts they continue to think. Certain thoughts have no value to you and work instead to make you ill. Other thoughts encourage, warm and uplift you. Why people would continue to think thoughts that hurt them is one of life’s greatest conundrums! Yet the whole world lives under this curse. Being negative, ungrateful, agitated and afraid offers nothing for your desire to be positive, thankful, at peace and secure. But, onward we march poisoning our souls, leading to our own, eventual demise. A healthy mind, like a healthy body, must be fed with healthy food. Oh sure, you can afford an occasional overindulgence or splurge, but to do so often will cause you harm. In the same way, we can survive our minds going south for a little bit, but we must find a way to return to that place working towards our own best interests. A healthy mind requires it.

There is only one you and there will never be another you. You only have one life to live on earth. If, while living on this earth, you are wholly against yourself, who can be for you? If you are not voting for yourself in the great election, how can you expect to win? People think all manner of horrible things about themselves. They criticize themselves, malign themselves, condemn themselves and doubt themselves. They have learned not to trust their own judgments. They willingly choose to persist in thoughts that serve no other purpose than to bring them down. They tear their own selves down! They aggrandize their every error and fault and minimize their own achievements and victories. How absurd! How awful? Yet, that is how people have been taught to think. And they persist in this evil thinking day after day, year after year. They fail to recognize what is behind that persuasion as even animals instinctively know how to protect their own selves. Thinking this way is not simply part of the human condition, but is rather a perversion foisted upon us by things we cannot see or readily discern. No person thinking clearly and in their right mind would actively work against their own best interests. This type of thinking comes from evil, working you over from the inside out to perform as your own worst enemy. If you can talk a man into thinking evil of himself, he will forever be defeated before he begins. As such our duty is to begin to recognize that these thoughts, these habits, these ways of thinking of ourselves are not right and are to be rigorously excluded. We owe ourselves that much! No person on earth has ever been made better, not even one iota better, by constantly living in and dwelling upon thoughts of inferiority and shame. You don’t make a child better by habitually pointing out his faults, but by cleaving to his goodness until he follows suit and believes it himself. A healthy mind only follows a determination to be for yourself instead of against yourself!

Healthy thinking is the cornerstone to a life well lived. Healthy thoughts build you up and strengthen you for the journey. Healthy thoughts are on your own side, even when you may have fallen short. It is difficult enough to live life with all of its complexities and potential for errors without the added burden of self evaluation and self investigation. You likely already know where your weak spots are and where you need improvement without the added criticism and judgment. Those judgments, that persistence in finding fault does not come from God. God is not behind that stuff, convicting you of sin as some have erroneously taught. God already made the way to save us from ourselves because He already knew we could not measure up. God also knows well the devices of our opponent, working in secret to defeat us by weakening our thoughts. Unhealthy thoughts, weak thoughts are made up in direct contrast to all that God says we are and all that God says we have. When we are afraid we have believed a lie and will not escape until we refute it. Hours spent in worry weaken our nervous system and make us ripe for sickness and decay. Thoughts of self hatred and disgust are the heighth of unnatural thinking pointing to a long persistence in wrong, uncontrolled, unchallenged thinking. Choose health. Choose life.

Today is the day to make up your mind to not think another negative thing about yourself. Stop participating in the things designed and orchestrated for your own defeat. Cease from finding things wrong with yourself and instead look for the good, your good. Begin to spot those habitual thought processes you have developed over time that serve no other purpose than to malign you. Quit opposing yourself. If God be for you, who can be against you? You can live the more than abundant life God has promised you, but you have to do your part. What you think and how you think is your part. Break free from the tyranny of self enslavement by learning to control your thoughts. A healthy mind is everything. Healthy mind.

Just some good thoughts…

Do Hard Things…

hard thingsI think it sort of dawns on you over time that you have aspects of your life that need some revision. If you look up hedonistic in the dictionary, you may find a picture of me. Nobody likes to have a good time more than I do. But, sometimes with your good times you discover excesses that require modification and those modifications aren’t always easy. Excesses can appear in any category of life and you recognize them by their impact on your life. There’s a reason God says all things in moderation. Whatever fun stuff you enjoy that may have become too much fun requires a change in your behavior and more importantly your thinking. Vices are called vices when they replace the real you with some added activity you need in order to function normally. That’s not to say that you must give up all vices, but rather those vices that no longer assist you but instead seek to control you. If you can’t have a good time without adding something else in, you may be getting tripped up. If you have lived any length of time, you know this is true. With life comes an expectation of control, not servitude or slavery, but rather setting limits and sticking to them. In this, you sometimes have to do hard things.

All people love liberty and freedom to do as they please. This is part of the foundation of the American way of life. But, when your personal freedoms begin to impact you and other people negatively, a change will be required. No-one sets out to become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Yet both result from a lack of control. No-one chooses a life of obesity and the litany of related health issues that accompany it, but those consequences remain hidden in the pleasure of consumption. No-one plans on ending up a workaholic, until that satisfaction from always working ruins family and health and the future. It doesn’t really matter which areas of your life have excesses; too much; a lack of control, what matters is being able to discern them before it’s too late, then take steps to modify and choose new pathways. This will require you to do hard things.

On the other end of the spectrum of control is over-control. There are people that deny themselves all pleasures. Some even go as far as to say that they are doing it for God. I can assure you that God who invented pleasure isn’t opposed to pleasure. Yet, He also sees through the deception of pleasure excesses. Emerson aptly stated, “Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it.” Pleasure and pain both have the capacity to deceive you or at minimum influence your decisions. In this, man always seeks to add rules such as taste not, touch not, handle not, yet God was not behind it. Instead He said, “Prove all things and hold fast to the good.” In life we are free to experience our lives in all of life’s manifold variety and stick with those things that are the best. Some things begin well but end poorly. Other things appear to be good but have poison hidden in them. And many, many things are good as long as you enjoy them in moderation. But, lest I put chains on you that are difficult to extricate yourself from, you and you alone must make that choice. It is your life and you are the one that best knows what works for you and what does not. Some people choose not to eat meat and it’s their mouth, not yours. Others abstain from alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you must. Some people require ten hours of sleep and others only six. All of us have free will, unless we surrender it by excess. If there is something you do that is too much for you and begins to hurt you, you may have to do some hard things.

Even the term “hard things” is really a misnomer. Control is no harder than making a firm decision. What becomes hard for us is changing habits that have solidified over time. Habits are great for useful endeavors, but habits spell disaster when connected to our excesses. Worse, habits become invisible to our awareness and we are forced rather to experience some pain or consequence before they come into view. Doing hard things is really more about making hard decisions. It’s about proving to yourself that you can. I think one of the most important aspects of our own mental health is in sticking to the decisions we have made. Nothing like following your plans for needed improvements to boost your self esteem to record levels. Conversely, there’s nothing like saying one thing and doing another to bring you down into the dumps. If it’s going to improve your life immeasurably, do hard things.

Finally, in some cases, certain things or harmful activities have gotten away from your control . Maybe you have traveled too far down a certain path. Perhaps you got caught up in something that was bigger than you are. Certain aspects of life have forces working behind them that exceed your personal ability or strength to overcome them. In these unfortunate, but common cases in human beings, you will need God to help you escape; God, the Higher Power. God who sees all, knows all and is over all is well able to rescue you. All that is required on your part is some humility; some willingness to admit it (whatever it is) has gotten away from you. God has not left you without remedy, nor will He ever. It doesn’t matter how hard your hard thing is, with God nothing shall be impossible.

My friends, we all need help at times; we all get tripped up; we all end up at places we never thought we would end up. There’s no sin in getting tricked. But, when you know what you have to do, you must require of yourself that you do it. Make the change. Modify your behavior. Cut back. Limit yourself. Control yourself. You will be so incredibly happy on the other side. Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when dealing with well grooved habits of thought, but it will happen and God will make sure you are real blessed along the way. Try it for yourself. Do hard things.

Just some good thoughts…

Divided You Fall…

When it comes to your life, you’re it! You are the only you, you have to work with. You can only be you and never another you. You are incredibly unique, unrivaled in your ability to be you. And, while you are busy being you, you only have one chance, one shot at your life. You only have one grand, relatively short opportunity to be the best, most blessed, happy version of you, you can possibly be. Given this all encompassing, unchanging reality, how could be ever be persuaded to be against you? How could you ever let anything come between you and you? How could you have come to accept an internal existence where you are your own worst enemy? Indeed, divided you fall…

It probably should have dawned on us a long time ago that something takes place between our ears day by day, not working for us, but actually working against us. We were all born with this inner critic who refuses to give us a break. It is relentless in its conviction to talk us out of who God made us to be and to make us into something else; something weak and defeated instead. According to this perilous maleficent, you are usually wrong, don’t measure up, deserve bad outcomes and will likely never get the things that are most important to you. It works to derail you and push or pull you off course. It is your old nature and it arrived shortly after the fall of mankind. It resides in your blood stream as an unintended corruption and is passed down from person to person, to everyone born into this world. And as such, it is the negative counter to every positive. It is indecision and self-doubt. It is error and it must be overcome. It is always a lie.

As a thinking being, don’t you find it strange that the voice inside your own head is so often negative? As soon as you gain some ground and begin to develop some confidence, the voice speaks up and reminds you that you are actually fraudulent and that it is only a matter of time before you are found out. You learn something new and helpful; you receive some flash of insight and then that dark specter goes to work persuading you against your own best interests. It seeks to make you afraid and threatens you repeatedly with some awful doom waiting just around the corner. Even the good you enjoy is portrayed as short lived with an end date looming on the horizon. And sadly, the whole world is subject to its work, seen in the faces of defeated people, worn out, miserable and without hope. Its primary work is done in your thought life and without recognizing and changing those thoughts you are destined for failure. It was never God’s will for you to live this way as His will was characterized by paradise. However, it arrived as a result of man’s free will choice and continues or is overcome in light of those important choices.

The only way for you to win in the great competition of life is to learn how to think properly; to think things that are actually true. God does not work to tear you down in order to build you up. God does not engender doubts and fears. God does not threaten you. God does not assault your mind with an endless stream of negativity in order to humble you. God is always for you. He heals you and teaches you and helps you. He wants you to understand what the heck is going on. What you have been experiencing is not natural. It’s not just how life is. It is an aberration and its consequence is felt within your own experience of life. God seeks to make you whole. God wants to fill in your rough spots and make your way smooth. God is for you and never against you! Knowing this truth, your job is to be for yourself.

Remember, you are the only you, you have got. As such, you have to take care of yourself; be kind to yourself; be patient with yourself. You have to stop thinking or speaking cruelty to yourself. Stop berating yourself and give yourself a break. You are a human being and you came into this world attached to an old man nature you are not going to be finally rid of until God gives you a new body and a new mind. Until that blessed future day, you have got to learn to defeat your internal opponent. It’s not just you opposing you. How could that be? You are your only you. If you aren’t even for yourself, how can anyone else be for you? And, why would you be against your very own self? Can you see the logic involved here? How could you look in the mirror and not like the person staring back at you? Who could have gotten you to the place where you don’t even like your own self, your own flesh? Who convinced you that you are so worthless, so stupid, so incapable? Who talked you into the fact that you don’t deserve anything good; that life won’t work out for you; that you are somehow destined to lose? Absent this wicked taskmaster, you would be free to think the best of yourself; to expect great things; to succeed in your every endeavor, to be and do everything you ever wanted in this life and God would be blessed with you for so doing. It doesn’t matter how long this has been going on (and we are all subject to it), what matters is what are you going to do about it!

Life is hard enough (thanks to this same opponent) and you don’t have to cooperate with it for another moment. Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself and learn to love yourself again. I think if we could see all the spiritual influence behind our wrong choices and mistakes, we would be a lot more compassionate with ourselves than we are. But, God sees it and made a way for you and me to win. Our job is simply to begin thinking how He says to think. The next time your old man nature maligns you or seeks to make you less than you really are, confront it; challenge it; take it on! You cannot be all divided against yourself and expect to win at life. You have to be for yourself, not because you have a big ego or are somehow selfish, but because you are the only you, you have got!

One life. One opportunity. One chance to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. Don’t spend another moment as a cooperator in ignorance, but choose instead to vote for your own happiness and blessings. God would have it no other way!

Just some good thoughts…