Just like our physical space, our mind can get cluttered. We can end up with a busy brain that is all over the place, instead of a focused brain that helps us have the better life we want. There are many mind-decluttering tips, some of the more common ones are:
- Getting what’s in our brain onto paper, e.g. writing your thoughts (journaling), creating your to-do list, so that your brain will be free to focus rather than keep remembering what you are afraid you would forget
- Reducing information overload and setting aside non-screen time to think
- Making decisions in advance, for instance, planning your workouts for the week or creating a weekly menu so you won’t have to decide daily what to cook. The other easy thing to not think about is what to wear for work – I used to wear identical black tops every day to work, so much so that my kiddo thought that was my uniform!
- Meditating, focusing on the task at hand rather than multi-tasking
Making Godly Choices
Today while I’m reading Genesis 13 on Abraham and Lot choosing separate ways, and that Lot chose to be near Sodom where the men were very wicked and sinful, I thought of how easy unwholesome thoughts could fill our minds. These men in Sodom were extreme – when the angels came to Lot in Genesis 19, the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house to demand sex with the angels (who they thought were men). How could this depravity become something so normal in Sodom?
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where,… 13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.Genesis 13:10, 13 (KJV)
It may not be something so far-fetched if we consider the pervasiveness of pornography – according to SEMRush‘s most visited websites (Nov 2020), pornhub was ranked #7, xvideos ranked #13 with a combined of 2 billion visits in a month. And a December 2020 NYT report highlighted how much child sexual abuse was on Pornhub. Moral values aside, letting our mind be filled with pornography is crowding out what we can use our brain for. As we desire to forge a better life in the new year, we also have to examine what thoughts we have that may be holding us back.
Two Brain Rethinks
- Clearing out the bad stuff
It may not just be pornography that’s cluttering our minds. It could be negative thoughts, such as ‘don’t be stupid, I can’t possibly do this’, or ‘I’m just not good enough’. Maybe some of the thoughts that we need to get rid of may not even seem so bad – like wanting more material stuff in life. And Lot wasn’t the only one who chose what looked good, Adam and Eve were similarly tempted. When we pause to consider who we want to be, we can do a mental inventory list of whether we are being that person with our thoughts.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.Genesis 3:6 (KJV)
Letting in the Good Stuff
What we think about affects what we do, and possibly, who we become. Before we get into all the self-improvement and tips for success in life, possibly we want to consider having the basics right. For our family, we keep this verse in mind to remind ourselves what our minds should be filled with:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
It’s not easy – we are told to have the growth mindset, right mindset and whatever mindset we need to set ourselves up for success. While figuring out how to be successful, we may forget who we want to be. So, take stock of the bad stuff we think about and replace them with the good stuff.
Your Thoughts Matter
Genesis 13 Journaling Prompt
What do you notice about your thought patterns? Are they the thoughts of who you want to be?
What is one negative thought that you can replace with a positive thought?
God, my mind can sometimes be filled with things that are distracting, destructive or mindless. Help me to focus on the good thoughts, the thoughts that will define a better version of me.
Books on Our Brain
I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
One of my favorite non-fiction books is on self-control by Kelly McConigal – The Willpower Instinct. Being a research psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, her book is filled with interesting research on how our brain works. I especially find the “I want” challenges useful. And she puts things into perspective, for instance, we may be ok with binge-eating once but are we ok if we keep on doing it? Well, there’s a challenge that if we give in, we have to do so for longer than this once – when we realize how every small action becomes the habit that defines us, we will take changing a lot more seriously!