Healthy Thinking


As I’ve aged, I’ve been trying to get healthier. In the past several years, I’ve been more intentional about working out regularly. I’ve even developed a taste for probiotic drinks! But one of the most important things I’ve been working on is getting healthier about the way that I think. You may have come across this ancient saying from Lao Tzu: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” I’m realizing just how true that progression is! When I let negative patterns develop in the way that I think, they start showing up in my words and my actions. Over time, words and actions earn us a reputation and define our character. That’s why I’ve been working so hard to catch negativity at the thought level before it shows up in my words or my actions.

There have been plenty of times over the course of my life when I allowed negative thoughts to go unchecked. And whenever I would let myself get into that pattern, I’d find that the more often I allowed myself to think negative thoughts, the more negative thoughts just kept coming to me. I’m guessing you’ve noticed that in yourself too. Thinking is just like other disciplines that we try to practice, like eating healthier food or exercising more often. The more we practice positive or negative habits, the easier those habits become.

And because I’ve noticed that, I’ve been working hard at catching that negativity and not letting it develop. I’m not an expert at it or a guru who can teach you how to never have another negative thought. I definitely still have those thoughts, but I’m a lot better at catching them now that I’ve been working on identifying and stopping them.

When I notice that I’m headed down the negative thought path, I have to catch those thoughts and remind myself that that’s the well-worn, negative path I’ve gone down in the past. But that I know where that old path leads and that I want to take a different path moving forward. It’s been helpful for me to try to put a new spin on what I’m going through. Not to say that I focus only on the positive when hard things happen, but I try to look for growth and learning opportunities instead of looking for things to complain about.

All of us go through things that are hard that we wish we didn’t have to experience. That’s just part of life. And when we do, it’s so easy to be negative. But I want to encourage you to join me in working to handle those moments in a positive way. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be natural—at least not at first. But as you practice, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier to avoid dwelling on the negative and focus on the positive or potential growth areas instead.

And as I’ve worked at it, I’ve found that thinking in a positive way results in me making better decisions. In the big picture, that’s what we all want, so let’s stop allowing negativity to have a home in our thought lives. That will translate into each of us making better decisions, which will ultimately lead to us winning more often at home!