In times such as this, we may lean toward having negative thoughts, scared thoughts, panicky thoughts. This style of thinking can lead towards all kinds of problems, including a negative mental state, which can lead to depression. Practicing good thinking may be hard, but it can prove to be life-changing if you diligently pursue the exercise of having good thoughts.
Due to a mental illness eight years ago, I had to recover in a group home in Houston for six months after I was discharged from a mental hospital. I was forced to rely on God because he was all I had. Maybe it was kind of like the way all of us have had to rely on God during this pandemic. I sought the Lord diligently by reading scripture in a prayer book and meditating on it. I prayed those scriptures back to God and He showed me His presence. He met me where I was and ministered to me.
Transitioning out of that time into “normal life”, I had to bring with me the habits and methods of staying close to God and keeping my mind focused on good thoughts. It was hard at first. I got distracted and didn’t focus on God as much. I had to realize that I needed to continue seeking Him similar to the way I sought him while in the group home. If you think this will help you during our current time of transition, take scripture and turn them into prayers, focusing on the presence of God as you pray. When things slowly return to a more normal state in your lives, keep seeking God and meditating on Him.
Besides praying scripture back to God, there are other ways to practice good thinking. One way to fight negative thoughts is to avoid filling your mind with negative images and negative information. If you watch heavy, dark images on TV and negative newscasts 24/7, you will struggle with thinking in a positive way. Limit your intake of negative media--whether it is on the television or through social media--and protect your mind from being bombarded with unhealthy thinking.
In turn, filling your mind with good images and good thoughts can lead you to having a positive mental state. One way is to find good visuals to put in your mind. Buy books that show photos of serene and peaceful nature scenes and look through them regularly. Memorize them in your mind. Meditating on them is a good way to fill your mind with good things.
I am guilty of focusing on negative thoughts in the past and this has led to very unhealthy living. At times, I still struggle with negative thinking. A scripture that particularly helps me with this is Philippians 4:8, which says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” To help me meditate, I take each one of those adjectives and attach a visually appealing picture in my mind. So, I think of something visually good that is “true,” and meditate on it. Then I take something visually good that is “noble,” and meditate on it, and so on.
Replacing a negative thought with a positive thought in this way can refocus your mind onto things that please God and glorify Him. Store up visually good thoughts in your memory so you can immediately replace a negative thought when it pops up.
During and after this pandemic time, I hope that you find yourself focusing on good things, and it will turn your world around. Focusing on visually good things should give you a good mental state, one that is focused on God and his presence in you life.