Sunday, August 8, 2010

As a Man Thinketh

Last night I posted on Facebook I hoped today would be spiritually filling. Never did I realize that not only would it fill me up, but I would struggle to figure out exactly what to choose for today's post. The children sang so well in Primary - even in the nursery! I found myself able to serve a sweet and overwhelmed sister by simply being a shoulder to cry on. I had a chance to go to choir practice today (something I haven't done in months) where we sung through one of my absolute favorite hymns. But it was the messages shared in our main sacrament meeting today that caught my attention the most.

As a child, a teenager, and young adult I used to love cloudy days. There was something invigorating about taking a walk or swinging at the park or even just sitting on my front porch in windy, storm like weather. I loved to watch the clouds rolling across the sky, see where they would try to touch the ground in a shower of rain, and most of all enjoy watching lightning streak across the sky.

Something happened over the years. Instead of enjoying the weather as I used to I found myself particularly depressed on cloudy days. It got so bad I would suffer the effects of seasonal depression through the winter months. I wondered more than once where my joy of cloudy, rainy days had gone.

The young, single adults in our ward (local congregation) have had a chance this weekend to attend a summit put on by the area leaders of our church. Men and women ages 18-30 were invited to attend a dinner and concert Friday night, a bunch of classes plus a carnival Saturday, and tonight there will be a spiritual speaker to tie everything together. My husband, as the leader of our particular ward, had the chance to attend as well. Today a few of those who went spoke to us in our main meeting.

Though the theme of the summit was "Find Yourself Through Service", most came away having been greatly influenced by one particular speaker (who had also been one of the entertainers at the concert the night before). He spoke about the way people think and how much it influences who they are and the way they present themselves.

The idea is simple enough: if you think negative thoughts you'll be negative. If you think positive thoughts you'll be positive. I believe the problem comes when we don't realize our thoughts are negative.

My therapist and I have discussed it a lot throughout my sessions. He's a big believer in our thoughts contributing greatly to the way we approach life. He told me our thoughts can come through so fast we may not even register what it was that just went through our heads. These thoughts are often formed during our childhood years, though the way the think about things can change (as mine did about cloudy days).

Dr. Jim gave me a copy he'd made of a bumper sticker he once found. It read: Don't Believe Everything You Think. That's right - believe it or not the things we think are not always true. We can even change the negative thoughts that come automatically by recognizing them when they happen. For example, someone makes a mistake. Their automatic thought is, "I'm so stupid. I can't do anything right. Might as well give up." If we see ourselves thinking along these lines it's time to stop, to rewind, and instead say something like, "I made a mistake. That's okay. I'll remember what I did wrong and try again."

Doesn't that sound easy? I think so. Give it a try this week. If you find yourself in a really bad mood and you don't understand why, do a little backtracking to figure out where the negative thought hit, then change the way you think. When you go to bed at night, review your day, let the bad thoughts go, and just remember all the good things. When you wake up in the morning, start your day with some positive thoughts. See if you find a difference in the way you approach your day, in the way you are able to handle your problems, and even the way you look at yourself.

This last week we've had some rainy weather. I could actually sense the dark feelings approaching. Instead of embracing those, I went outside and just stood in the wind, feeling it rush over me, and for the first time in many years I felt invigorated again. It was beautiful.

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