On Thursday, those of us living in the United States will pause to commemorate the Thanksgiving holiday. For many, this is a joyous, thankful occasion. For others, it is painful or lonely. Which describes you during this season of your life?
For years, I have been teaching students that there is a very strong correlation between our thoughts, feelings, and responses. When we think negative thoughts, we tend to begin to feel more negative (angry, sad, hopeless), which in turn produces negative (harmful, unproductive) responses (words or actions). Often we cannot change our circumstances, but changing the way we think about them can make all the difference! Using “self-coaching” to think positive (hopeful, encouraging) thoughts can make us feel more positive (happy, confident, optimistic), leading to more positive (productive, safe) responses.
I recently completed the Bible Study, “The Armor of God,” by Priscilla Shirer. In it, she mentions Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, and her study of neuroplasticity. Dr. Leaf is able to demonstrate through brain imaging studies that there is science to prove what I have intuitively known and taught. Dr. Leaf’s research is both fascinating and convincing…our toxic thoughts poison not only our minds (and emotional well-being), but also our bodies (and physical well-being). I highly encourage you to find out more at http://drleaf.com/about/toxic-thoughts/.
Obviously, our Creator God knew this from before the beginning of time. He has given us instructions for healthy living:
- Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)
- And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
An excellent place to start is with expressing gratitude. Are you feeling excited, happy, relaxed, or hopeful? Or are you feeling tired, frustrated, angry, depressed, or lonely? Remember, it isn’t about our circumstances, it’s about our thoughts about our circumstances. Start giving thanks for the things you have, the people who are in your life, the blessings you have received. Read Psalms of thanksgiving (good ones to start with are Psalms 95-101, 145-150). And resist the lies of the enemy that you are unworthy, unloved, unlovable, or overlooked.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving week? Regardless of your circumstances, you can CHOOSE to be full of gratitude, overflowing with thanks! Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18)