After a busy holiday weekend, I found myself today alone with my thoughts for a good portion of the day. What I know about thoughts is this: at any given moment, the thoughts flying through your brain are either positive or negative, and rarely are they neutral. Even thoughts you might categorize as neutral are bent one way or the other.
For example, I spent most of the afternoon working in my yard. I hadn’t done anything there for quite some time, and it was overdue. Along one side of my fence was a bunch of rocks that I was trying to dig out of the clay and throw in a junk pile that I started. If you know anything about middle Tennessee soil, you probably know it’s clay-like; clay in this heat gets hard and is tough to dig up. So in stream-of-conscious fashion, I sat and dug and the thoughts flying through my head were like: “Come on, rock! Get out of there” or “Dang, I thought I was done with this part” or “Hey, look at that bug.”
Those rock phrases sound neutral by themselves, but they tend toward the negative. If I wanted to change them to positive, I could have been thinking, “Wow! That rock has such a cool shape” or “This rock is stuck in there, but at least I’m getting my workout in.” Or maybe I could have thought, “This is going to be so much better when I’m done.”
The bug phrase has a bend toward the positive; it sends curiosity pulses through the brain and when you stop to look at the bug (what your brain told you to do), you can admire the colors, or the work ethic, or the fear of the bug. Fascination leads towards learning.
My experience is that when I let my brain tend toward the negative phrases, negative phrases are multiplied exponentially. “I thought I was done with part” turns into “Man, it’s hot out here” or “I really wish someone would come help me” or it can even turn sarcastic or bitter or angry.
In the same way, if I tend toward the positive, the positive phrases also multiply exponentially. “Hey, look at that bug” often turns to “God is so creative” or “Wow, I love how unique this bug is” or other phrases that cause me to wonder.
We all have a tendency towards pessimism or optimism, but I do believe you can slowly move your tendency towards optimism if you’ll only turn those neutral-type phrases from a negative bend towards the positive. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes, and pretty soon you’ll be shocked by the optimism coming out of your mouth.
DAY 262 HOMEWORK: The gospels say: Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Work on turning those stream-of-conscious thoughts towards the positive. We all need a little more abundance in our hearts.