My Most Powerful Tool for Eliminating Bad Thoughts
Keeping my eyes and my thoughts away from even mildly pornographic or destructive things is something I believe is important and will make me a happier person. I want to be thinking about how to reach my dreams, how to be a better husband, how to do something awesome, etc., and not dwelling on things that will take me down.
Watch your thoughts for they become words,
watch your words for they become actions,
watch your actions, for they become habits,
watch your habits for they become your character,
watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
But it’s not always easy! Most moments of most days I'm fine and bad thoughts are not a problem. But sometimes, especially when I'm tired, lonely, bored, or sometimes for no reason that I can figure out, a bad thought will jump in my head and really fight to stay there. In those moments I need a weapon to fight back! I've tried many methods, and this one is the most powerful I've ever come across. Here it is:
COUNT 5 SPECIFIC WAYS THAT GOD HAS BEEN MERCIFUL TO SOMEBODY.
Thats it! I'll actually name 5 things in my mind while I discreetly keep count on my fingers with my hand down at my side. I'll try to use new things every time, or at least ones I haven't used in a while. Here is one example of what I'll say in my mind (this one from my own life): "God was merciful to me by giving me the ability to provide for my family so far (I’ll count 1). By giving me my friend Kris who’s hardworking example makes me redouble my efforts whenever I think of him (2), by giving me my friend Robbie who inspires me to keep my life clean (3), by giving me peace after I prayed earnestly for forgiveness on such-and-such occasion (4), For the feeling He gave me when I looked at that sunrise over the mountains this morning (5).”
When I'm done with that, the bad thought is gone and usually doesn't come back. Sometimes it does wriggle back though, so I'll hit it with 5 more things. Usually just using this trick a few times per day is all I need, but there have been a handful of really hard days when I've probably used it 50 times. Then there are easy days when I don't need it at all.
Here are some extra thoughts:
- It works! You can't think about anything negative while you're doing this.
- It isn't always easy, but it is always possible. It gets easier over time, and I’ve found that I’ve needed it less too.
- It builds your faith that God will help you! He helped all those other people, right?
- It is always there when you need it.
- There are lots and lots of things to use! Let me tell you some of the things I count:
- Think of your own life. Think of things that went well for you and choose to attribute them to God. Think of hard times that made you a better person and count those toward God's mercy to you.
- Think of your parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. Did any of them succeed at something large or small?
- Think of times in history when God helped someone.
- The scriptures are loaded with examples you can count. It didn’t take me long to think of over 30 from the story of Moses delivering the people from Egypt. Can you think of more? What is your favorite story from the scriptures, and how many things can you find there?
- Do you believe that God had a hand in the creation of our amazing universe? Our world? Our bodies? Our lives? Get specific and count those things! Do you have a family? Friends? Memories of happy times? Choose to count those things to God's mercy. This list is getting too long for a blog, but use it to jump-start your imagination!
In closing, counting the ways that God has been merciful to His children has never failed in beating a bad thought out of my mind and replacing it with something good. And it builds my faith by reminding me that I can overcome any challenge with God's help!