Philippians 4, Road Map to Happiness

Philippians 4:6-8 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE. If anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY, think about such things.”

This is my favorite verse and one that I am actively working into my thought life. It is literally a road map to happiness and peace. This verse is a step by step on how to make your life better, the only catch is that you have to follow it.

What does this even mean?

‘Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”

The biggest thing here, at least in my very unprofessional opinion, is the with thanksgiving part. So many times, when we pray, it’s just asking for things. Why can’t we show God our thankfulness? Even in the darkest hour, there is always something to be grateful for. Even if its being thankful that we have a loving God to listen to our woes.

‘And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

It is my belief that coming to Christ with a grateful heart, is the foundation to feeling the peace of God. Having a grateful heart means surrendering to the will of God and the fact that there are things out of your control. It shows that you can see the good things in your life and you are doing more than asking for stuff like a spoiled child. Being thankful when we come to Christ in prayer makes your time with God feel more genuine and completely changes the tone of your prayer.

‘Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things’

Sooo, what are you thinking about? Is what you’re thinking about the truth? Are your thoughts noble? Are you looking at the situation in the right mindset? Do you focus on what is pure? Do you think about lovely things? Do you focus on what makes you admirable? Would you consider what goes through your head excellent or praiseworthy?  These thought patterns are the pillars of a healthy mind.

How do I change my thoughts to reflect these things?

Watch your thoughts. Next time you’re in a funk of depression, or anytime really, there is no bad time to start, pay attention to what kind of thoughts are floating around in your head. Pay attention to how you react and ask yourself if the situation warranted your reaction. Be nice to yourself, this is not about judgement, this is about learning so you can heal. Taking a step in the right direction and taking back control over your thoughts and your life.

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Breaking the Lies that Steal Our Lives

Why is it so hard to get up the courage to help people? I feel like we don’t think we are relevant enough. I’m afraid to help him because he’s going to think I’m dumb. How am I going to help her when I myself am broken and can’t figure out my own life? We are each our very own unique brand of broken. We are buried under lies that we believe are truth.

The brain follows the mind, what you actively choose to think about becomes your brain. So when we hear something, or actively think a thought, that becomes a physical memory in our brains. Something bad happens because, well, life happens. We can’t control what happens, our power comes from how we choose to react to it. Those responses are also stored as memories in the brain. So if you think negatively, your brain doesn’t know how else to process information. The more you think about something, the stronger that memory becomes until it becomes your reality. This is how a lie becomes a neurological disorder. This is how a lie becomes a reality.

So how do we break that pattern? If it really is up to us, if we really do have a choice, how do we choose differently? That’s just it. Choose differently. Let me tell you from experience, it’s terrifying, but what a rush it is to actively take control of your life. It’s not easy, and it’s not instant, but it’s worth it and it works. This is not a one time thing. It takes practice and determination. How long have you been dwelling on the hurt? How strong is this memory? It’s going to take some time to reteach your brain and that’s ok. Its not just a one time, “that’s it, I’m done.” It’s a million choices that tare down the foundation of the lie and rebuild the truth. But you can do it. I believe in you.

Happy Thoughts Wanted

Months ago, I started looking into mindfulness. I have experienced trauma in the past and had a LOT of trouble coming to terms with it. Ten years worth of trouble coming to terms with it. Because of this trauma, I developed anxiety and depression which I have been fighting a slow but winning battle against. Mindfulness, I feel, had made that slow battle kick up into a much faster pace. Mindfulness is a form of focused meditation. Every night before bed, I sit quietly, hugging my pillow to my chest, and start to focus on my breath. I don’t change it in any way, I don’t judge it, just watch it. Eventually my mind wanders and it’s OK, our minds are made for thinking, wondering is what they do. Instead of getting upset with the wondering and telling myself that I am wrong and bad at this and other nasty self thoughts, I see where my mind wondered to because it’s important and there’s a reason it went there, and gently bring my awareness back to my breathing. The key here is letting all this happen without judging yourself for it. Accepting it and releasing it before moving on. The second bit, is noticing where your thoughts are going, because after all, thoughts are important. They are the make up of the health of your brain and they should be paid attention to. There is a distinction however. Your thoughts make up what you are but your mind makes up who you are. The thoughts in your brain are just memories that you keep coming back to, the part that is paying attention to those thoughts is who you actually are. That is why you should never judge your thoughts, never judge your memories. Use your mind to redirect your thinking away from the ones you don’t want, and toward the ones you do want. Your mind is the captain that your brain has no choice but to follow. For me, this concept is filled with so much hope because it brings credence to the “be whoever you want to be” that we were always told as children. This concept tells you how it can be done.

 

After a few months of practicing the meditation, I began to see it bleed into other areas of my life. One such instance being about a month ago, I had a bad day and my darling husband came over to cuddle with me on the couch. I began to feel better before my subconscious rudely butted in and reminded me of the awful day I had. Good feelings gone. But I caught it. I was living at the moment and noticed the shift in my attention from the now to the day I had. Instead of being caught up in that emotional back slide, I brought my awareness to how good it felt to have the love of my life come and comfort me and eagerly welcomed back my good mood. The more I noticed these emotional shifts, the easier noticing them became. I became calmer, less reactive and an all around happier person.

 

My bouts of depression have not gone away completely, however they are less debilitating. I no longer call into work because of them and my house is becoming a much cleaner place to live. I still feel the emotional pit but it is no longer quick sand. I can pull myself out. My mental health is no longer a struggle because I now have the medicine I need and I require no prescription for it. I feel free.

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