Learning how to control your thoughts is difficult, but doing so will improve your happiness so much.
Did you know that some of our illnesses today come from our thought life, namely stress? According to neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, not only will getting your thoughts under control make you happier, it will greatly improve your physical health as well.
I know from firsthand experience that when thoughts are chaotic, it causes all sorts of havoc in your body also. Most people don’t realize the HUGE connection between mind and body.
It’s easy to underestimate the power of your thoughts. You want to know how to control your thoughts, and you try, but it’s difficult to do! It is often misrepresented by today’s society that you cannot control the thoughts flying around in your head, and that if you struggle with a mental difficulty, it is simply a matter of genetics, circumstances, and/or chemicals. While these do play a role, there is more to it than that!
In her materials, Dr. Leaf uses her 30+ years of experience in clinical practice and brain research to explain how thoughts form and affect the brain and body. She actually pioneered the concept of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change based on our thoughts). The thing that sets her apart as a neuroscientist is her belief in God, which influences all of her teaching and research. I strongly recommend ALL her materials, but today I will be sharing some of the things I’ve learned from her book “Switch On Your Brain.”
The biggest thing I gained from this book is the power of choice. God always gives us choice in our lives. Satan wants me to think I have no choice. I have the power to choose my thoughts at any given moment!
Depression and anxiety are real and often due to physical imbalances in the body. These take time to correct wth proper nutrition and care. However, during the healing process, it’s important to have positive thinking mechanisms (such as this book) to help you cope.
The book points out that many of us are severely undisciplined in our thought lives. So much attention is given to developing physical discipline – diet, exercise, and the like. Almost NO attention is paid to the importance of disciplining our thoughts!
The Bible specifically tells us to “bring ALL thoughts into captivity unto Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 10:5) and to “set your mind on things above” (Col. 3:2). God would never command us to do something without providing the ability to do it! If you don’t believe you can control your thinking, try this exercise which will help you learn how to be happy:
Get out a piece of paper. On one side, write down a happy memory. On the other side, write down a difficult memory. For 30 seconds, flip the page to the “happy” side and discipline yourself to think about this. If your mind wanders – and that’s normal – simply bring it back to the happy thought. Now flip the paper over and discipline yourself to think about the difficult memory for 30 seconds. You are proving to yourself that you can CHOOSE to think about whatever you want!
No one can force you to dwell on anything you don’t want to dwell on. Yes, unwanted and unpleasant thoughts WILL pop into your mind. These will be triggered by the world around us, memories, and Satan himself. But YOU get to choose whether or not you will continue to focus on those thoughts. In every moment, there is POWER to choose and change your thinking!
We all have negative thoughts swirling around in our head that affect us. But these thoughts are not who we are. The Bible says that we are made in the image of our perfect God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). God cannot lie! He has not given you a diseased mind, a weak spirit, or a hateful personality. He doesn’t make junk. We become those things by believing the lies of the enemy – Satan. “He is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Sometimes we give Satan more power than he deserves. Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). If Jesus has ALL authority, how much does Satan have? Zero. The ONLY thing Satan can do to your mind is lie to you. It has no power because it has no truth. The only way he can accomplish what he wants is by getting you to believe his lies and act on them. Don’t fall for it!
Remember – health is not just what you choose to put into your body. It is also what you put into your mind and choose to dwell on. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
To find out more about this life-changing and scientific material and how to be happy, check out “Switch On Your Brain” !
Update: Since writing this post, I have learned a lot more about healing depression and anxiety and how to control your thoughts. While I do value Dr. Leaf’s materials to help manage these symptoms, I believe they often stem from a physical imbalance. The only caveat to reading her materials is to remember to fix the physical side as well. She often states that you an control 100% of your thought life, but this is extremely difficult to do when your body is weak. For more info on this, check out my post Mental Health Must-Haves.
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If you want help learning how to control your thoughts, I hope this is an encouragement. How do you control your thought life?