Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].
— Philippians 4:8b (AMPC)
Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer
Some people are very unhappy, and they’ve been that way so long that they no longer realize there is another option. I can well remember being like that. I blamed my unhappiness on the way others behaved, and thought my husband and children caused me the most unhappiness. I thought for sure if they would change and just be a little more sensitive to my needs, I would feel better. If they would help around the house more, volunteer to run errands, or just ask how I was doing, I knew I’d be happy. Of course, I never said anything to them to communicate how I felt. If they were sensitive and caring, I thought, they would be able to see how they could help me and make my life easier.
I did pray about it, and I often told God how much happier I would be if they cooperated more, but they didn’t change.
One day, God spoke to me—but not with the words I wanted to hear. He said, Think about what you are thinking about. I had no idea what God meant. In fact, the words didn’t make sense. How could I think about what I was thinking about?
Then I realized the truth. My mind was constantly racing from one thought to another. That was bad enough, but worse, most of my thoughts centered around myself and my needs. I had thought that if they—the other people in my life—changed, I would be happy. I finally reluctantly admitted that even if they changed, I’d find something else to be upset about. I was just unhappy, and didn’t need any particular reason; it was first one thing and then another.
As I thought about my condition, I thought of Philippians 4:8, where Paul presented a list of the kind of things we need to focus on. If God didn’t want me to think about the things I had been thinking about, I first needed to know what I should think about. I soon realized I had a lot to learn. Although I had been attending church for years, I couldn’t remember anyone ever telling me how important my thoughts were to God and to my quality of life.
If we concentrate our thoughts on good things—the kind of things Paul mentioned in that verse—we will be built up, grow spiritually and become strong in the Lord.
The more I meditated on God’s message, I realized how my thoughts affected my attitude, and how this is true of all of us. God only tells us to do things that are for our good. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled, and the only way to be happy and fulfilled is by doing life God’s way. If we’re full of wrong thoughts, we’re miserable. That’s not only a theory—that’s both spoken from my own experience, and it’s found in God’s Word. I’ve also learned that when we’re miserable, we usually end up making others around us miserable, too.
Since those days, I’ve made it a practice to take a regular inventory of my thoughts—I review the way I think. What have I been thinking about? I ask myself.
I stress this because—as I learned from my own experience—Satan deceives us into thinking that the source of our misery or pain is other people, or sometimes our circumstances. He tries not to let us face the fact that our own thoughts are often the source of our unhappiness. I would venture to say that it’s practically impossible to be happy while maintaining negative, critical, depressing thoughts.
As we take action by intentionally redirecting our thoughts to the kinds of things God told us to focus on, and by inviting Him to help us, we’ll start to overcome the enemy in the battle for our thoughts (see Romans 12:2; Philippians 2:13).