Many things in life are easy to like. I like my wife. I like our children, and their spouses. I like our grandchildren. I like my friends. I like what I do for a living. I like my 32 year-old bass boat. No effort is required on my part to like these people, and countless other things in my life.
But NOT everything in life is “likable.” So how are we to respond to the unpleasant things which give birth to negative feelings? And what can be done to rid ourselves of the distressing emotions that come with these un-pleasantries? Here’s one of the greatest discoveries of all time, you change your feelings by changing your mind. Your focus determines your feelings. What you think about affects how you feel. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS AND YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR FEELINGS. Thoughts and emotions are inextricably bound together. The key to feeling better is thinking better. Attitudes are not inevitable. Your attitude is your choice. When you change your mind for the better, you will feel better.
A well-poised, ninety-two year-old woman was fully dressed by eight o’clock each morning, even though she was legally blind. Her hair was meticulously combed and her makeup was perfectly applied. Because her husband of seventy years had passed away, she was being forced to move to a nursing home. On the day of the move, she sat many hours waiting patiently in the lobby. She smiled when they told her that her room was ready. Carefully she maneuvered her walker to the elevator. On the trip up the nurse began to give her a visual description of her tiny room. “I love it”, she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight year-old who just received a brand new toy. The nurse said, “But Mrs. Jones, you haven’t even seen the room.” That saintly sister said, “That doesn’t have anything to do with it. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I’ve already decided to love it.” WOW! When you have a bad attitude, you must “rearrange” your mind.
You may not be able to do anything about where you are, but you can do something about how you are. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude. You cannot tailor-make the situation, but you can adjust your mindset to fit the situation.
Attitude adjustment requires you to think about what you are thinking about. Your meditations (thoughts) will multiply your emotions, either positively or negatively. When you attach “words” to your thoughts, you set the course for your life. What’s in the well comes up in the bucket. Jesus said, ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matt. 12:34). We all tend to speak about what we are thinking about. That ninety-two year-old woman chose her attitude ahead of time. She made a decision about her circumstances before she even saw her living quarters. She arranged her mind properly, and then chose her words to back up her decision.
What you think about and speak about will determine your perspective. Your mind and your mouth dictate your feelings, so you need to pay attention to both. In order to get a thing out of your mind, begin by getting it out of your mouth. Stop speaking about what you need to forget. “Life” and “death” are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). So choose to speak LIFE. Rehearsing hurtful things, mentally or verbally, keeps them alive. You must choose to allow them to die by intentionally ignoring them.
Instead of obsessing on your pain and problems, get consumed with the multitude of GOOD things in your life. You must program your mind with the right kind of information. The Apostle Paul admonished, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true… honest… just… pure… lovely… of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). This verse provides a filter through which to qualify your thoughts. Dwell on these categories and you will feel better. Count your blessings. Thank God for the many things you “like”. When you think about what you’re thinking about, you get to choose your thoughts. And carefully chosen thoughts create positive emotions.