Wednesday, February 18, 2015
What is Growing in The Garden of Your Mind?
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.” I was unable to locate the original source of this quote. It has been variously attributed to sources as diverse as Margaret Thatcher and Mahatma Gandhi. However, I certainly agree with the author. You give strength to your thoughts by dwelling upon them over time. You give strength to your thoughts by feeding them with words of encouragement; both those you hear and those you choose to speak. Eventually these thoughts will result in behavior. Your behavior over time hardens into habits. Habits become your life. The trees you have planted and nourished over the course of a lifetime will bear fruit. Is your mental garden likely to produce love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, and faith or a different kind of harvest? Are you listening to or speaking words that pit us (the good guys) against them (the bad guys)? These words are likely to generate pride, hatred, acts of vengeance, and ultimately murder. Instead, can we find a way to reach out to others, offering them something that we believe to be of true value, with no preconditions; without strings attached; without attacking them or their beliefs? All of us have suffered misfortune in this life. Some of us have suffered grievously unfair misfortunes as the result of the conscious actions of wicked people. Will reliving these calamities ultimately benefit us, or will they paralyze our life into an endless loop, reliving our worst experiences, over and over again? I believe it is natural to talk out these experiences until they begin to bore us. When they finally begin to bore us, they will loose their power over us. If after a reasonable period of time, these people and their actions are still exercising a power over your thoughts, your words, and your life it is time to take the drastic action. Forgive your enemy. Give your pain to God. This will not benefit your enemy. It will be of enormous benefit to you. If you hear the words, “If only,” you are likely to be headed off into a never-never land of unfulfilled dreams and desires. This is particularly true if the words, “If only,” precede something that is already a weakness or problem in your life. If you have a problem with debt, your problem will not be solved by more debt. If you have a problem with overeating, your problem will not be solved by another jelly doughnut. Are the people in your life telling you that you are weak and helpless or are they encouraging and empowering both in word and action? If we are honest, it is pretty easy to determine if our friends and family are lifting us up and pushing us forward or holding us back and pushing us down. Unfortunately, it is much harder to break off unhealthy relationships with close family members or old friends than it is to identify a toxic relationship. When dealing with religious and political leaders making this determination can become a harder problem. Hitler certainly made the German people feel powerful, but at what cost? Watch out for anyone in authority who is making themselves a powerful or an indispensible part of your life at the cost of your freedom or your money, or somebody else’s freedom or money. Just for today make an effort to be more conscious of your words; what you think; what you speak; what you choose to hear. Are these thoughts, these words leading to freedom and strength or are they likely lead to dependence on something or someone else based on your weakness or inadequacies? Are these words likely to lead you into taking some kind of positive action that will better your life and the life of your neighbor or are they likely to lead you into a swamp of inaction and self pity? It might even help to write down some of your worst and some of your best thoughts. Such a list might give you an interesting insight into what is actually growing in the garden of your mind. Philippians 4:8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable; if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise; dwell on these things.