What Is On Your Mind?

12/28/2011 10:59 am ET | Updated Feb 27, 2012

"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life" declares the wise teacher in Proverbs (4:23 NCV). Of course, this is not a new idea because every major philosophy warns us about the power of our thoughts in shaping the pattern that our lives follow. As I have worked to rid myself of the hidden parts of myself, which is known in Jungian terms as the shadow, the idea of my thoughts controlling my life has been quite challenging. As a matter of fact, I doubted the truth of that notion and I found myself really tempted to dismiss it as being an oversimplification of the challenge to living a positive life. I had not seen this very clear scriptural statement in Proverbs until a few months ago and it was truly a moment of epiphany for me. Since I am a person on a spiritual path, the Bible is important to me and finding these words and hearing this message at a time when it was important to put my doubts to rest about the power of my thoughts was indeed a gift and I will always cherish it.

As we take a look around us these days and see the degree to which negative thoughts and energy control so much of the way that many people function, it is good to know that we have the power within us to make some changes. Fortunately, Jesus proclaimed this very fact by telling us that the kingdom is within us and that we have power to make a difference in our own lives and in the world. But we are tempted to fall into the negativity of the age. Our culture does not offer much support for anything other than that. Think for a few moments about how much emphasis is placed upon the things that have gone wrong in a day. Even when we are making an intentional effort to be positive, it is difficult not to fall into the pattern of being negative because of the power that has been given to negativity and the manner in which it reinforces the thought patterns that so many people entertain throughout their day.

There is likely not to be anyone reading this blog who is not aware of the impact of negative thinking upon the quality of their day. It is a great exercise to note the feeling tone of a day as you go through it. Often there is such a difference between the way the day begins and the way that it ends. If you begin the day feeling encouraged and that it has possibilities and end the day with a diminished sense of hope and joy, it might be possible to trace the loss of positive energy to your thoughts. Our minds are very powerful and we spend all of our time thinking about many things. But the mind can be trained to focus upon the kinds of thoughts that we wish to have become more dominate in our lives if we choose to work to that end.

As we go through the holidays and begin a new year it is very important to reflect upon whether or not we wish to continue the patterns that we have established. What is on your mind? Are your thoughts helping you to live your best life or do they detract from that effort? Do you have patterns of meditation, exercise, spiritual disciplines and other sources of rejuvenation that can help you to shed the negative energy that comes your way on a daily basis? I have found that keeping the discipline of silence and eliminating noise from my life helps to quiet the inner chatter that challenges hopeful and peaceful living.

As we move ahead into 2012, with all of the political, social and economic challenges that face us, it is crucial to have a sense of being grounded in some way that will not be shaken by external forces. It is amazing to think about how much we are affected by our thoughts. Things that we fear which never happen hold us in a place of being immobilized because of the power of the thoughts about them. Our thoughts create the world in which we live. As the Proverbs writer has proclaimed, they run our lives. It is interesting to ponder how much power our thoughts have in setting the stages upon which our daily lives are performed. When we give a particular thought its power, then we are held in the grip of it until we find a way to disengage from it. So many thoughts that seem to haunt all of us are rooted in fear and our inability to control our external lives. The "what if" syndrome plagues the best of us making it important to have faith that can help to ground us at the core of our being. It is this type of grounding that can help us not to stumble over every pothole of negativity whether it comes from within ourselves or outside of us.