I read this article in the Ensign last week that really struck a chord with me. It talked about how our thoughts can really drive us forward towards the things we want most - or they can bog us down and hold us back and lead us away from what we really want. Most of us work hard to control our actions - we all know we need to do more of some things and less of others. While it may not be easy to change our actions, it is quite easy to see where we need to exercise more control. But when it comes to our thoughts, do we think about what we think about enough? I've never really made a concerted and sustained effort to control my thoughts. I've let my thoughts control me way too much.
Just like many women need "hormone replacement therapy" to help them feel more "even" as they age, most people (especially women, it seems) need to adopt some "thought-replacement therapy" to feel not just more "even" but more happy. I should be happy. I have every wonderful thing I ever dreamed of in so many ways - a handsome, good, kind, smart, patient husband, 5 beautiful, fun, sweet kids, a lovely home, opportunities to use my talents in many directions, a great extended family... But I feel unhappy a lot of the time. And I feel like I've finally more fully put my finger on why. It's my thoughts. And I have the power to change them.
I often feel frustrated and angry and down. I don't need to feel these things nearly as much as I feel them. I can control these feelings. We live in this world where people are always blaming all the problems they have on how they were brought up or what their nature is or what has happened to them in their lives. But really, our happiness or sadness comes from the way we THINK about what happens more than from the actual happenings in our lives. We cannot choose what happens to us in some instances, but we can always choose what we THINK about things - if we learn to control our thoughts, that is.
The article I read pointed out that you can't just try to NOT think about something - you can't replace something with nothing in your head. To really get rid of a negative thought, you have to replace it with a new thought - and you have do do that again and again until your thought processes become permanently altered - until your negative rut is replaced by a new, positive rut.
So this week, I wrote down a list of the negative thoughts that pop up in my head way too often - and came up with new thoughts that I'm going to use to replace those negative thoughts with. So far, it's working pretty well. When the thought "wow, these kids are driving me crazy" pops into my mind, I replace that with "this moment will pass and I have great kids." When the thought "what in the world is Jared doing?" pops into my head, I replace it with "I'm sure Jared is doing his best as always." When the thought "I feel so overwhelmed" comes into my mind, I replace it with "OK, what's the next small thing on my list that I need to do - I'll just do that one thing for now." And you know what? It's really helping. I'm getting better at replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. And I'm realizing how often I do think negative thoughts and how poisonous that is to my spirit and my happiness.
I want to be happy. I should be happy. But to be happy, I have to CHOOSE it, with my thoughts as well as with my actions. This will be a long battle in my mind between the negative and the positive thoughts. But the positive ones will triumph!