What Are You Thinking?

 

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 character.

Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

Have you ever heard the statements, “you are what you think.” Or, “if you think you can’t, then you can’t!” Statements like these reflect how powerful our thoughts are. The things we think about impact our lives in a significant way. We express our thoughts in words which in turn influences our actions and what we do will soon become a personal habit. Our habits become so much a part of us that they become our identifiers. It is your habits that your family and friends will use when describing you to another person because that is what distinguishes you from another individual. In reality your character is what other people know about you. The things you do, both good and bad, are the markers that will follow you all the days of your life – thus becoming your destiny. The bottom line is a man’s thoughts determines the character of his life and become the foundation of who he is.

Your thoughts are significantly important for they will create either a positive or negative reference for the choices that you make each day. You build your life thought-by-thought and deed-by-deed. It is through a lifetime of thoughts and deeds that you form yourself and determine the impact your life will have on others. These thoughts and deeds are, in reality, choices that you make about what you will say or the way you will act. As a result, it’s not something that happens to you, but rather how you choose to think and what you choose to do that determines the type of person you’ll be and the level of happiness you’ll ultimately achieve. If you choose your thoughts and deeds wisely, you are destined to live a happy and rewarding life.

Schools teach math, English, science and history, but very little about the fundamentals of good thinking. Parents urge children to make good grades and to do their best, but typically they provide little instruction to a child concerning how to think through a choice they are about to make. Friends, who are often as untrained in making good choices themselves, become a source of advice for many of us. But, until we personally take the initiative to become better thinkers, we are more likely to make snap judgments and head off in some direction with no real thought as to how our decisions might impact our life.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. Today is a good time to stop and assess the nature and quality of what we spend our time thinking about. If we take seriously the belief that our thoughts are the true index to our character, it is imperative that we take control over our thoughts and take responsibility for changing any and all thoughts that are not good or positive. You are not known merely by your words for talk is superficial. Words are often used to conceal or to misrepresent. You are known and judged by the content of your character. The essence of human character is found in the heart and it is the condition of the heart that provides the evidence of the true man.

 

The Unexpected, Unplanned Life

We often live life with an idea of what our future will look like. We are comfortable with life as it currently is.  We are certain of the direction we are going and the plans we have made for ourselves. Suddenly, the unexpected happens and we find ourselves in a situation that was unplanned and our life no longer mirrors the image we had become familiar with.  It’s at times like this we are forced to take a step back and take a closer look at our journey and at the changes we must go through.  When the unexpected and unplanned happens we must learn to shift gears, change our course of action and steer the wheel of our lives into unfamiliar territory with the goal of fulfilling our purpose in life and becoming our best self.

The good thing about having the unplanned and unexpected happen in your life is the fact that it allows you to learn things about yourself that you might not have discovered.  You will find strength you never knew you had.  The unexpected will teach you that you are in control of very little.  The unplanned will force you to recognize that God has a better plan for you and that His plans will make you happier than you ever thought you could be and that you will be just fine.  God works in mysterious ways and it is best to try not to go against the flow of what He brings into your life.  Sometimes it is better to look up and say “God, I know you got this and I will trust you and obey.”

When you experience unplanned and unexpected things in your life, it will humble you.  It will make you a kinder person, a more sympathetic person, a wiser person, a stronger person, a less judgmental person, a deeper person.  Or simply put, it will make you human. You will learn to accept the unplanned and unexpected and learn not to deny truth.  You will learn that when it is all said and done, life has surprised you in a good way.  You will one day look back and be able to connect the dots and make sense of all the confusion you went through.  So, don’t resist the unplanned and unexpected when they happen.  Realize that life is full of challenges that will cause you to grow as a person.  You are not meant to understand life.  You are meant to live it.

My advice to you is to be brave.  Learn to relate to life in a new way. Discover what the unplanned and the unexpected is trying to tell you.  Let go of how you thought your life should be and embrace the life that you currently find yourself in.  You must be willing to let go of what you are use to so that you can have the life that is waiting for you.  Life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned or the way you once thought it would, but that doesn’t mean it won’t turn out better than you could have ever imagined.  Embrace the unplanned life.  You may be shocked at how perfect it could end up.

The Value of Encouragement

Imagine having a family and a circle of close friends where everyone is your greatest cheerleader.  They believe you can do great things and they do everything in their power to help you. They help when you stumble, and they’re thrilled when you succeed. If this is your reality, then you have a lot to be thankful for.  Unfortunately, this is not true for many people.  A lack of encouragement and emotional support can result in discouragement. Discouragement can make the greatest person ineffective.  It can choke all growth. It brings progress to a standstill.  It can stop a person in their tracks and cause them to lose sight of their dreams and goals.

Every day we need to be prepared to encourage one another. Encouragers are like jumper cables to a person who has become stuck on their journey in life.  We’ve all had the experience of being out some place and the car won’t start because the battery is dead. The short term solution is usually for another car to come along side and hook up a set of jumper cables from their car to yours. Encouragement works the same way.  Encouragement will jump start another person by giving them the energy and power they need to get them going again.  Encouragement gives an individual a second chance. It is the hand that is extended to help you get back on your feet.  Encouragement doesn’t hold peoples failures against them but says instead ‘I see your potential and you can do it!’

It is so important for us to give and receive encouragement and support because it emphasizes to another person what could be and helps them to refocus and points them in the right direction. We have all known what it is to be discouraged and we all know people who are in great need of encouragement.  Fortunately, we live in an age where connecting with people is easier than it has ever been. There is no excuse not to reach out to someone who desperately needs a pick me up. The best way to experience the encouragement that you long for is to be an encourager to others. Proverbs 12:25 says “ “anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (NKJV). Your encouraging words can breathe courage into someone who feels hopeless and overwhelmed. Therefore, use your words to strengthen another person and not tear them down.

We can encourage one another through acts of service.  Take someone a meal, or clean the house for a sick friend.  Offer to babysit for a friend so they can have a little quiet time for themselves.  Buy a gift, and it doesn’t have to be expensive but the thought will mean a great deal. The most important thing to do is to make contact with someone who is going through a crisis.  Being there with someone who is hurting and offering your support is huge.  A true friend stands by their friend on a good day and stands even closer on a bad day.  People don’t always need advice. Sometimes, all they need is someone to hold their hand, or an ear to listen to them or a heart that understands.  Be that person who lifts up another soul and not the person who keeps another soul from flying.

Getting Past Frustration

Have you ever had a bad day? Perhaps your day began with driving in slow traffic only to arrive at work to realize that you missed a work deadline.  Or, you had to deal with rude customers or your children presented you with another challenge that you have no idea how to handle.  What is the key to surviving all the stress we encounter?  Simply this — we must decide that we will not allow people and circumstances to determine our attitude.  Stress is not what happens to us but it is our response to what happens.  It’s also true that you can’t control everything that happens to you in life but you can control your response.  You can’t control what people say about you, nor can you change how people treat you, but once again, you do have control over your response to negative people and the circumstances they create for you.

The greatest weapon we have over stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.  You can either dwell on your feelings of frustration or you can push through your frustrations by changing what you think about your situation.  Replaying thoughts in your mind can bring about anxiety.  Many people spend too much time worrying about things that have happened in the past or they worry about things that could happen in the future.  Do you know that 99% of the things that we worry about never happen?  Our mind usually worries about things it is convinced are true but, most of the time, are actually not true.

Your life will not get better by chance – it can only get better with change.  Sometimes we must get to a point of total frustration before we are ready to make a change.  The key to getting passed what causes stress in your life is to make a decision to keep moving. Allow stress to propel you forward and not to remain stuck. Encourage yourself by using your energy to work towards a solution to your problem.  Fight your way through frustration by replacing negative thoughts with thoughts of success.  Success is on the other side of frustration.  Focus on the presentReturning your focus to the present will help you accept and let go of what you cannot control.  It will also help you realize that you can’t change the past, and that the future hasn’t happened yet, so it’s counter-productive to spend your time worrying about the past or the future.

It’s a tough world and we have to be persistent.  Quitting is giving into frustration.  Don’t turn back.  Accept the frustration as a challenge – and love it! Quitting is another form of giving in to frustration.  We have to be persistent in order to accomplish our goal.  Never turn back in midstream.  Follow it through to the end. When the going gets tough, and a little voice says, “It’s not worth it” tell yourself “it is worth it!” In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon said: “The righteous person falls seven times and gets up. The evil person falls just once.” It’s important to recognize that the righteous person is not defined as someone who never makes a mistake. Rather, the person who achieves greatness is one who keeps trying again and again. He sees frustration as only a passing nuisance, and therefore never gives up. In fact, his falling seven times may be precisely how he became great. The next time you get stuck in frustration remember all the other times you moved through it and succeeded. Believing that you can succeed is half the battle.

How To Hit A Curveball

At one point or another your life will change. This change can be a positive experience because you have grown as a person and have reached another level of success in life, or it can be a change that will ultimately reveal the real you and cause you to grow as a person to enable you to enter into the next season of your life. Nothing in life stays the same – it is not meant to. We all must change and move forward and not become stagnant where we are.

Sometimes life will throw you a curveball that will put you in a position where you have no idea what lies ahead. Curveballs can turn your world upside down or they can enlighten you and bring wisdom to understand the future. The affect curveballs have on your life depends on the choice you make – it’s your choice. You can choose to be safe and not take the risk that comes with change and be happy with things staying exactly the way they are now, or you can embrace change and be open to new experiences and opportunities that will surely come. If you are not a risk taker, you prefer to not rock the boat or should I say you ‘don’t want to fix’ what isn’t broken. If you are a risk taker, you see change as a means to an end. Change to a risk taker is an open door that leads to endless possibilities that will positively impact their destiny. Risk takers believe that they are strong enough and resilient enough to handle whatever happens in the future.

Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed and re-arranged to move us where we are meant to be. We should not fear the curveballs that enter our lives. In fact, curveballs can force us to know who we are and what we can rise above and still come out of it with our personal character and dignity intact.  Our life is a reflection of the choices we make and we are accountable for our response to even the events we had no control over. The next time life throws you a curveball, don’t back away from it. Stand in the batter’s box and swing your bat with full confidence that you have made the right choice and see that what was meant to harm you will become the source of your success!

We Are Better Together

In this world there are some things that you can only do alone, but to reach your full potential, you will need to rely on your relationships with other people.  Almost everything of great significance in history has come from teams of people working together.  Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, but it took hundreds of thousands of workers to get him there.  It would have been impossible for him to achieve this great feat on his own.  Any successful person will tell you that they did not reach their goal alone but that someone along the way gave them some help. Someone, whether a parent, a coach, a great teacher or mentor, played a vital role in their success. The point is that when we succeed, we succeed not only because of our individual efforts, but also because we had help along the way.

Regardless of your personality type, relationships are a key ingredient of creating and enjoying great success. You can’t rise to your full creative potential by yourself. You need others who will support you, give you feedback, and make you more than you can be on your own. There are some people who think that they made it this far because they were just so smart, but there are a lot of smart people out there.  Or, they think that they are successful because they worked harder than everyone else.  Honestly, there are a whole lot of hardworking people out there as well. The truth of the matter is that if you and I are going to accomplish anything significant, we need each other. We can try to do something great alone, but when we put our hearts, minds, and hands together, it’s like laying a foundation that is destined to hold up a strong and mighty tower – one that is solid and built to last a lifetime.

It is wisdom to have people in your life who can motivate, guide and protect you as you build your dream. This person or group of people would have already proven themselves in their own right and therefore you can trust them implicitly. You need someone who has the knowledge and experience you need for the future problems and situations you are sure to face. A mentor can help answer the questions/doubts you have, or possibly guide you on where to find answers.  If you allow them, they will help hold you accountable when they see you falling off track and be present with a listening ear whenever you need help.  A mentor will keep you from becoming burnt out, overwhelmed or frustrated.  Don’t let your ego, pride or embarrassment keep you from seeking a mentor in life. Take a look around you. Every house, school, church and building you see took a team to build. Every business you see didn’t just suddenly appear – someone made that happen and they didn’t do it alone. There are those that are always willing to help and share if you just have the courage to ask.  Remember, we are better together!

What Do You See When You Look In The Mirror?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  Is the reflection one of high self esteem and confidence, or do you see a person struggling with thoughts of envy, self doubt or even wishing that you were someone else?  Are you constantly beating yourself up and thinking that somehow you should be more, do more, be better, and you don’t measure up in your own mind?  Low self esteem or feelings like you are not good enough, are experienced by people of all ages in all walks of life.  Negative thoughts about yourself prevent you from living your life to the fullest and need to be dealt with and rejected and not lived with and accepted.

It doesn’t matter how much you have already accomplished in life, we tend to look at other people’s lives and think that they´re better off that we are.  We feel dissatisfied with who we are and what we have, or don’t have, but the fact of the matter is the people you compare yourself to compare themselves to other people too and I can assure you that the people who seem to have it all do not. The next time you find yourself wishing you were someone else for the things they have, stop for a moment and wonder what you may not see.  We can’t see behind closed doors and we haven’t walked in the other persons shoes.  We view life through a lens tainted with our version of what happiness is. When you look at other people through a lens of compassion and understanding rather than jealousy, you are better able to see them for who they are—imperfect human beings going through the same challenges that we all go through.

What’s important to consider is perhaps there is someone who wishes that they were you!  Blessed is the individual who can stop and say, “My life is awesome. I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need.”  Gratefulness leads to contentment.  Contentment creates harmony and balance.  Isn’t that what we really desire? B e kind and gentle with yourself.  You’re doing the best you can.  You don’t have to beat yourself up over not “getting there” fast enough.  As long as you can come away at the end of the day knowing you gave it your all, that’s all anyone can truly do.  Work each day on becoming the best you can be. The only way to see a good reflection when you look in the mirror is to know that you are enough just as you are and self-love will be a little bit easier every time you remind yourself of that.

How Strong Are You?

Who doesn’t go through failures, setbacks, and challenges? Life can be tough and even unfair at times but a strong person knows that no matter how tough it may be, they must rise above the difficulty and keep moving forward. They remember times in the past when they had every reason to quit but they survived by thinking positive thoughts and doing everything they could to find the help they needed. It’s easy to become over-whelmed in this life but it’s not the load that breaks us, it’s how we respond to it that makes the difference.

It’s easy to tell someone else to hang in there and to keep a positive outlook when they are going through tough times but when it happens to you, keeping your chin up isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. No one wins all of the time, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth.  If you are to grow, you must be capable to overcome setbacks, disappoints and pain without becoming bitter but better.

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it’s necessary that you encounter some defeats so that you can find out who you really are, what you can rise from and how you can come out of it. You will never know how strong you are until you are placed in a position that the only choice you have is to be strong. The key to not being defeated is to make a decision that you are never going to stay down but always get back up again. What defines us is how well we rise after falling.

Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times in your life; they only make you strong. Just as muscles are built by overcoming resistance, you either let your challenges in life break you or use them to become a mentally stronger person. You may not be able to control everything that happens to you, but you can control your thoughts about what happens. Pat yourself on the back that you have already come through a lot in life and know that you will get through whatever is coming.

What’s In Your Garden?

This is the time of year when we buy seeds to plant.  We plant flowers, shrubs, trees, vegetables, etc and we expect that once the seeds are planted and the soil is watered that we will receive a harvest.  You can’t expect to harvest what you have not sown. It’s important to realize that if you do not tend to your garden, it doesn’t mean that plants will not grow.  What it does mean is the wrong plants will grow.  Weeds will pop up if you neglect the soil. This is also true for your mind.  Your mind is a mental garden and the weeds must be kept out.  You must pull out the negative thoughts (weeds) and replace them with seeds that will grow fruit.  Every thought we have is a seed being planted.  We can either plants seeds that grow into bountiful flowers or we can plant seeds that grow into weeds. We are all gardeners in our own lives and we need to pay attention to the types of seeds we are planting.  Ask yourself if you are growing weeds of judgment, unforgiveness, hate or disharmony? Or, is your garden (mind) full of seeds that will blossom into  peace, love and unity?

As you plant seeds in your  life remember that seeds take time to grow.  A whole garden isn’t created over night, and neither is a balanced life.  If you focus on the good things in your life, you will start to see something new and beautiful grow.  This is how a mature and balanced life starts and you are well on your way to living the life you’ve always wanted.  Also remember that seeds must change to grow.   A seed can’t stay a seed forever.  When cared for with nourishing soil, rays of sunlight, and water, they change shape and start to become whatever it is they were meant to be. To become mature, you too, must let go of anything that is limiting your growth so that you can embrace the transformation that needs  to take place. Be confident that you will take on a better form and it will take time. Take pleasure in knowing that once a seed begins to bloom everyone recognizes its beauty and  appreciates it for what it has become – the new you.

I urge you to become intentional with the seeds you plant in your life no matter how hard or pointless it may seem right now. With a little time, patience and hard work, your life will be filled with beauty and you will be forever changing and growing better and better with age. Just like bees are attracted to honey, your life will be a magnet to the right kind of people that will contribute to the growth and beauty of your garden in their own way.

Something to think about: Are you planting flowers or weeds?

Replace The Negative With The Positive

A positive outlook on life is one of the most powerful assets you can have. Positive people expect success, good health, happiness, wealth and good relationships and those things tend to show up in their lives. This is not because they are already successful, or because they are more confident, it is simply their attitude.  Attitudes like being positive, not being fearful and the determination to never give up are powerful and  affect your life in tremendous ways and it all begins with your thoughts.

Your thoughts control not only what you think but also what you say and do. That is why positive thinking is so important. If you have any questions in your mind whether or not you are a positive person, you probably have room for improvement. You can change your attitude by first expecting good things to happen in your life. Don’t just think about them happening, you need to fully believe that what you want will in fact come to you. Look for opportunities for your goals to be reached at all times and act on them when you see them. Don’t second guess if an opportunity is just wishful thinking. If you have been expecting what you want to happen then see it as the right opportunity.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  In the same way, stop hanging out with negative people. They drain you on a daily basis and prevent you from reaching your potential.  Let your family and friends know that you want only positive energy in your life.  A good positive  environment must first start with you. No more saying “ I can’t”, only “I can.” Even the words “I think I can” is not good enough. You must believe that you can.  Anything is possible with optimism.

Your thoughts have tremendous power. With the right thoughts you create the right beliefs and when you really put your mind to it, I bet you can do anything.  I can do anything is a simple phrase, but it helps to remind yourself that you really can do anything you set your mind to. Instead of giving yourself reasons why you can’t do something, give yourself reasons why you can. It’s never too late to go after your dream.