What are you thinking?

A friend of mine recently spoke some words of wisdom I’d like to share with you.  He mentioned that “you truly are what you eat, physically,” because we supposedly regenerate all the body’s cells about every seven years.  (Hmmm…how many different people have you been in your lifetime?)

My friend pointed out that a similar saying describes us spiritually:  “You are what you think.”  Just as you must control what you eat in order to be stronger and healthier physically, you must control what you think in order to have the same results mentally/spiritually.

The following list is a condensed version of my friend’s presentation {along with my own comments}.  I believe that applying these guidelines in your daily life will have the very desirable side-effect of raising your level of happiness!

  • Assume the best.  {This viewpoint can reduce friction, tension, paranoia, and false accusations.  It can bring out the best in people around me because, without always realizing it, we tend to rise or fall according to other’s expectations of us.}
  • Be optimistic.  {Even if an upcoming event turns out to be a disaster next week, does spending this week miserably worrying about it make it better?  I’ll answer that for you–if there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome of the event, then NO!  It just ruins two weeks instead of one!  If there is some way I can influence the outcome, then I need to quit stewing, get off my duff, and help improve the situation.}
  • Let hurt go. {Dwelling on anger, hurt, or embarrassment keeps me from thinking objectively to resolve problems or move forward with my life.}
  • Focus on others. {I’m guessing you’ve heard this before:  “It’s not about me!”  It’s a paradox, but if I want more personal happiness, I will find it most easily by looking outside myself and focusing on bringing happiness to others.}
  • Be humble.  {I’ll say it again:  “It’s not about me!”  The fabulous, noteworthy, undeniably incredible abilities I may possess do not make me any “better” than anyone else.  We all have star qualities, and not-so-stellar shortcomings.}
  • Be reasonable. {“Stubborn as a mule” is not a moniker that I should be proud to wear.  If I’m closed-minded to new ideas, I will miss out on many opportunities to grow as a person.}
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude.  {Each day that I focus on being thankful for what I have will increase my contentment and peace.  Feeling entitled to everything I want will steal my joy.}
  • Be fair-minded.  {Prejudice comes in many ugly forms, and can be directed toward people, places, things, or ideas.  It can creep into my mind so subtly I may not recognize that my speech and actions are unfairly hurting others.  Closing my ears in judgment, rather than opening my mind to new ideas can cause me to miss out on wonderful opportunities and relationships.}
  • Be zealous.  {There are more than plenty enough “lukewarm” people, doing barely what’s needed to get by in life.  I want to strive for excellence and enjoy the benefits of a job well done, whether that be in a literal job/activity or in a relationship.}
Two people happily paddling a canoe in front of a golden sunset.

photo by Arlo Bates

When I personally evaluate myself, I compare mental and spiritual growth to paddling upstream in a canoe, in that it takes constant attention and effort.  If I completely stop paddling in that figurative canoe, I am not sitting still at the same spot.  Instead, the current sweeps me backward and I lose some of the progress I had gained.

There have times when I felt mentally and spiritually exhausted.  I wanted to sit back and cruise through life for a while and get some relief from the stress that weighed me down.  Those were the times I did not work to develop the qualities listed in this post.  Instead, I withdrew from others and regressed into doubt, pessimism, loneliness, and depression.  Today I realize, though, that I do not have to live that desolate life.  I will never be perfect; but I choose to continually be perfecting, which surrounds me with blessings each and every day.

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