In part 1 of this blog series we discussed Philippians 4:8 and how that one verse is the secret to living a joy-filled life. We also discussed the importance of putting only joy-producing thoughts into your head. It is a way of controlling your mental diet. You can read part 1 here.
In part 2 of this blog series we discussed the art of consistently thinking joy-producing thoughts. We also discussed 4 important questions to ask yourself regarding the thoughts you put in your head. You can read part 2 here.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I just love that verse. It shows that the source of true joy and peace comes directly from God. If you do not have a relationship with God, it makes it very hard to have any joy in your life.
I have found that when I am spending a greater amount of time in relationship with God (reading my bible, meditating on what I read, and praying), I tend to have more joy in my life. When I am spending less time with God, the daily trials of life seem to affect me more. There is a lot less stress when I am in tune with God.
I think that the beginning of Romans 5 sums it up very nicely.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Billy Sunday, evangelist was once quoted as saying, “What we see as we go through life always depends upon where we stand to look.” I like that. Everyone has a different view of how things are and it would benefit us to keep that in mind the next time we don’t agree with what someone else thinks.
So let’s get a little practical here. We need to fill our minds with joy-producing thoughts, but what exactly are joy-producing thoughts? Well, that is difficult to answer exactly because everyone finds joy in different things. What might result in joy in one person, would not be joyous at all to another. The key is to identify what thoughts cause you joy and focus on thinking those thoughts.
In general, here are some guidelines to keep in mind as far as what kinds of thoughts you choose to think of consciously:
- think excellent thoughts, not mediocre thoughts
- think fresh, exciting thoughts, not stale, boring thoughts
- think compassionate thoughts, not harsh thoughts
- think loving thoughts, not indifferent thoughts
- think helpful thoughts, not hurtful thoughts
- think faith thoughts, not fear thoughts
- think bold thoughts, not comfort thoughts
- think opportunity thoughts, not security thoughts
- think giving thoughts, not getting thoughts
- think grateful thoughts, not entitled thoughts
- think responsible thoughts, not irresponsible thoughts
- think reconciliation thoughts, not retaliation thoughts
- think positive thoughts, not negative thoughts
- think thoughts of victory, not thoughts of defeat
- think about the promises of God, not the problems of this world
As you go through the list above, I would like you to ask yourself two questions. Which of these thoughts do you find the easiest to choose? Which of these thoughts do you find the hardest to choose?
As you are working towards thinking better thoughts, a good starting point would be to focus on thoughts that comes from a category that is easier for you to choose. As you become more seasoned with you thoughts, you can work towards ones that are more difficult for you to choose. Think of it as a game. The better you get at it, the more joy you will have in your life.