I’ve read scientific estimates that suggest the average human thinks 30,000 thoughts a day after their 18th birthday! That means if you live to be 78 years old, you will think 657,000,000 thoughts in your life. “A penny for your thoughts” is suddenly a very profitable offer!
Those 30,000 daily thoughts define us. It is essential that if you and I are going to live remarkable lives, we must aggressively seek to choose the thoughts we will dwell on, as well as the thoughts we will eliminate. We must give careful attention to our thoughts.
The Apostle Paul told a group of believers that he would strive to take each one of his thoughts captive, bringing them into submission under Christ. He understood how important thoughts were, and understood that living remarkably couldn’t be done without remarkable thinking.
Here are five areas where we need to carefully choose our thoughts:
- Forgive quickly: I’ve known too many people whose lives have been wrecked by a little seed of bitterness. At least it was a little seed at one point. But when a person chooses not to forgive hurts committed against them, that little seed soon becomes a root that penetrates every part of their lives. That root takes over and before long, life is marked more by hurts than by victories, more by the pursuit of revenge and ‘fairness’ than by the pursuit of remarkable, Overboard living. Forgiveness is a choice, and when we learn to choose it in our thoughts early and often, we can find great freedom to pursue what God has put on our hearts.
- Joy is an option: Joy is not a byproduct of good circumstances -- it’s a byproduct of daily choices, regardless of our circumstances. The Bible commands us to choose joy in our trials (James 1:2-4), not because trials are fun, but because trials produce in us something of eternal value. Victimhood is easy and is not for those living remarkably. Joy is one of the great indicators of those who are living remarkably. We must choose joyful thoughts each day, in each circumstance.
- Think the best of others: I’m often guilty of reading into peoples’ actions and assigning a meaning that I perceive is correct. In other words, I’m guilty of thinking I know others’ motives. In 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter, Paul tells us that “love always protects, trusts hopes and perseveres” (1 Cor 13:7). I’ve had someone explain to me that “always trusts” means to believe the best in others. If you are going to live remarkably, you can’t waste some of your 30,000 daily thoughts on the motives of others. Instead, start by thinking the best of others until circumstances clearly direct you to do otherwise!
- Load up on truth: Philippians 4:8 instructs us to think thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. The more you load up on the truth, the more you’ll begin to recognize things that aren’t true, or noble or right or pure or lovely or admirable or excellent or praiseworthy. The best counterfeit agents in the world don’t waste much of their time studying counterfeits -- they study the real deal. The more they know what the real thing looks like, the more easily they recognize a fake. Load up on the truth, and you’ll start to see right through the lies this world has to offer. The Bible is the greatest source of truth that we can fill our minds with.
- Inspire others: What thoughts do you have that are about inspiring others? My friend Danny Ray is a world-class magician who inspires others every time he takes the stage. His magic is unreal. But if you spent just one afternoon with Danny while he’s not on stage, you’d see that what he does on stage flows out of what he does as a matter of intention. He thinks of ways to inspire others through acts of kindness, words of encouragement or through living as an example of selfless service. His thoughts are constantly circling around ways to make people laugh, think, smile or be blown away. He wants people to know God as he knows Him, and he does it by inspiring others.
If you are going to live remarkably out of the comfort of the boat, following Christ onto the water even in the midst of the storm, you will have to carefully choose your thoughts. I’ve given you my “Big-5”, what thoughts or categories would you add to the list? (Feel free to leave some of your ideas in the comments for others to consider.)
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is better on the water!