As the daughter of parents who struggled with the challenges of dementia, I am always on the lookout for brain matter. That is, info on how to keep the brain healthy and functioning until I step into eternity.
I already know about nutrition and the importance of avoiding anything that leads to brain fog. Unfortunately, that means I must limit my ice cream consumption during the hottest month of the year.
But it also means that I am acutely aware of the importance of positive thinking and how we can actually keep ourselves from moving in negative directions.
Recently, I have been more aware of how we often bite our own tails with negative thinking. With statements such as:
- I’m too old to do _____________.
- Nobody will ever buy my books. (I hear this from clients who refuse to do any marketing).
- The world is in terrible shape, and there’s no hope for the future.
An editing colleague, Debra Butterfield, suggested self-help books written by Steven Campbell. He teaches easy-to-understand principles for how we can improve the quality of our thoughts.
So I bought Making Your Mind Magnificent: Flourishing at Any Age, and quickly read through his twenty chapters. Campbell reminded me of the power of positive affirmations, which I have followed for several years—using the practice with my life coaching clients as well as individually.
Simple Post-it notes around the house that record my aspirations for who I am becoming as a writer, as a Jesus follower, as a human being. And constant positive reminders of my value as a child of God.
Campbell writes that the brain learns in little chunks. One step at a time. One positive motivation for a single step.
That principle also follows what I tell my coaching clients about taking one step at a time: “Just write a sentence. Don’t try to sit down and write an entire book, worried about how it is going to fit together. One step. One sentence. One paragraph. Soon, one chapter appears and off you go.”
What surprised me about Campbell’s book were his examples of how the brain does NOT want to change. How it will keep us believing the negatives, because it is not comfortable with change and it is easier to accept the status quo. Basically, our mind tries to trick us into staying right where we are. It attempts to lock us out of moving in a different direction or accepting any type of self-value.
But Campbell states, “Your brain can be taught how to embrace change, and thus become your greatest motivator and friend.”
So . . . affirmations help us use self-talk to change the way we think. They motivate the mind and thus, change our actions. As King Solomon reminded us in his book of Proverbs, “As we think in our hearts (our inner mind), so are we.”
But as in any habit, it may take 21 days to make this mind-produced change. Currently, I am on Day 15 with one of my affirmations. About one week to go for a positive result I am embracing. But I have already seen some changes in my attitude and behaviors. And no, I’m not sharing publicly about the details.
Imagine the changes we might see if we use positive talk in our relationships, parenting, workplace, and society. Think of the possibilities for social change, for encouragement, for sharing love with each other instead of constant judgment and internal criticism.
Is it not worth the attempt to teach our minds how to positively respond to life? Can we at least try? And could we reach out to others with the same mindset?
To treat one another as we want to be treated. To greet each day by blessing each other. To share hope by who we are becoming.
Why not use our minds for something uplifting and hope-filled?
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For another book based on the positives, check out Hope Shines.