“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This is counsel from the Apostle Paul found in his letter to the Philippians. “Put these into practice,” – this kind of thinking, he says – “and peace will be with you.”
That’s simple enough. By focusing on what is positive, commendable, and good in your life, you can achieve a sense of peace. This is both biblical and scientific. Researchers have known for years that gratefulness is the key to happiness. But Paul didn’t have social media, did he? He didn’t live in the industrial strength, agitating washing machine that is the typical news cycle of the 21st century. He wasn’t assaulted by the thousands of messages, texts, advertisements, pop-up ads, billboards, and e-mails that ravage our eyes and ears.
Therefore, for you to practice what the Apostle taught early Christians, and gain some necessary peace of mind in the process, you have to step away from the noise time to time. Unplug. Tune out. Drop off. Because most of what pummels our senses day in and day out is negative. It is noxious poison, seeping into our spirits, contaminating our gratefulness, our joy and peace.
Here is a prescription for unhappiness, if not pure self-inflicted madness: Watch CNN all day. Watch Fox News without interruption. Fill each waking moment with MSNBC or some clamoring idiot on the radio. Focus only on your Facebook or Twitter timeline – which has been designed by intentional algorithm to present you with a narrow, insulated worldview. Read about everything that is repugnant, offensive, dishonest, and vile. Fill your mind, ears, and eyes with what is fearful, angry, negative, conspiracy-riven and hateful. Do this, and you will become a suspicious, anxious, infuriated individual who cannot enjoy a single moment of gratitude or peace of mind.
I’m not saying you should bury your head in the sand, go off the grid forever, or ignore the real troubles and injustices of the world. Absolutely not. People of faith, because of faith, are compelled to enter into unfairness and injustice, to shine light and truth, and to make a redemptive difference. But if you “fix your thoughts” on all that is false, dishonorable, wrong, and ugly, this will be impossible, because only a peaceful mind can foster peace. So, yes, this is more than “The Power of Positive Thinking,” more than mind over matter, more than the bliss that comes from being ignorant of the realities that surround you. This is about finding a constructive, productive, healing way forward.
If you don’t bring your love-infused, Spirit-led, full of grateful peace mojo to work with you every day – the product of focusing on the good stuff – the God-stuff – all the stuff that is “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise” – you will not succeed in making a difference. You will only succeed in making a mess.