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July 21, 2021

The Best of the 4:8 Principle

Thought Life: Part 5

 

OK, men. I promise I’m not just being lazy by shamelessly quoting another author. 

 

When I read a book, I mark it up and highlight the things that speak to me. I found many things to highlight in The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry. So, to close out this series on our thought life, I decided to share some of my favorite passages. 

 

I hope they speak to you as well. 

……

 

No area of your life is untouched by your thoughts. Your habitual thinking patterns either encourage you toward excellence or nudge you into weakness. (xiv)

 

As humans, we search for joy in all the wrong places. And what we receive is just a sporadic sampling, a fraction of the real deal, a clever counterfeit to genuine joy. We look outside, not inside. The secret to a joy-filled life is so close, so obvious, that inside is often the last place we look. We search everywhere but within. Living with joy is our birthright. It is God’s intention for all his children. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (5-6)

 

Joy is an outward sign of inward faith in the promises of God. (6)

 

“The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell; a hell of heaven.” –John Milton

 

The secret conversations you hold in the privacy of your own mind are shaping your destiny, little by little. (11)

 

If your aim is to maximize your potential for joy, you must first discipline yourself mentally. This is your responsibility, something for which you must immediately take ownership … Right thinking is a choice you have to make for yourself the rest of your life. (12)

 

“The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through the tears. The happiness for which our souls ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one which will root deeply inside us and give inward relaxation, peace, and contentment, no matter what the surface problems may be. That kind of happiness stands in need of no outward stimulus.” –Billy Graham

 

Dwelling on something means: thinking deeply, reviewing, replaying, meditating, mulling it over, talking about it. (29) This why it is so important to dwell on the best things and not get caught in negative thought loops.

 

The more frequently you think about something, the tighter the grip it exerts on you, the decisions you make, and the actions you take. (30)

 

It is important to note that damage isn’t caused by the fleeting negative thought but rather by the negative thought that sets up shop in your mind. After all, you cannot completely control the thoughts that are triggered from your surroundings, but you can unquestionably control what you choose to dwell on. Imagine a spark from a campfire flying onto your sweater. As long as you quickly brush it away, it will do no harm. It is the same way with negative thoughts. Train yourself to become aware of them, and then sweep them away without much fanfare. (34)

 

Needing approval from others is an immobilizing trap. It is essentially saying that someone else’s opinion of you is more important than God’s. It may be helpful in certain situations to remind yourself quietly, “What you think of me is none of my business.” (64)

 

Never let an old wound fester due to excessive attention. (65)

 

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”  –Marcus Aurelius

 

You will always feel what you dwell on. (92)

 

One of the most effective and least utilized methods for upgrading your emotional life is acting your way into the feelings you most desire … If you rule out the option of acting into your feelings, you will forever be doomed to enjoy only those positive emotions that arise spontaneously. (96)

 

“It’s not a lie if you believe it.” –George Costanza from Seinfeld

 

We do all sorts of silly things that fuel our negative emotions. As a result, we end up getting more of what we don’t want. We distort things, we exaggerate things, we amplify our experiences in life, and then we pick the wrong things to dwell on. Philippians 4:8 clearly communicates what we should do: “Dwell on the things that are uplifting. Dwell on the things that are working. Dwell on the things that are worthy of praise.” But frequently, we dwell on just the opposite of what Paul was referring to in this exceedingly practical passage from the New Testament. When you find yourself emotionally low, you can be pretty sure that you’ve been dwelling on what’s not working. In this low state, your mind plays tricks on you. If you’re trying to implement the 4:8 principle, it is very important to start noticing your emotions and how they spiral quickly upward or downward. This peaked awareness shifts you from being the passenger in your emotional life to being the driver. Only when you notice changes in your emotional life can you begin to rise above the passive choices that fuel negative emotions. (106-107)

 

It is helpful to think of negative emotion as a warning light on your car’s dashboard. If you ignore the indicator light, you may very well be inviting a bigger problem down the road. If you don’t deal with it, the warning remains front and center wherever you go. Once you acknowledge it by taking your car in to get checked out, you can discover whether it’s a real problem or a false alarm. Any necessary maintenance can be performed, and the caution light will disappear. In the same way, you can defuse your negative emotions by acknowledging their presence. Determine whether any critical needs are going unmet or whether this is just a false alarm. (111)

 

Feelings are not the gospel and are rarely cited in Scripture as a basis for taking action. (111)

 

At times, we seem to think we have a right to negative thoughts. Instead of dismissing them, we embrace them. There’s no benefit to doing that. You can drop the thoughts anytime you want; in fact, I’m giving you permission to do so! (116)

 

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” –Proverbs 4:23

 

Think of your mind as a sponge. It acts on what it soaks up. And when it is squeezed, guess what comes out?  You’re right! Only one thing can possibly come out, and that is what you put in. Being aware of this dynamic can mitigate the damage negative exposures inflict on your personal growth. Most people simply don’t pay any attention to their exposures. Instead, they just soak them up. They listen to whatever happens to be playing on the radio. They watch the TV programs that the networks promote. They read the books everyone else is reading … If junk goes in, then sooner or later junk must come out. (136)

 

The very act of seeking new insights drives out stale thinking. When you’re reading and listening to great ideas, then by default, you can’t be filling your mind with mediocre inputs. (138)

 

If you’re ever tempted to say that you don’t have time for solitude with God, ask yourself bluntly, “What could I possibly do with that time that would bring me any greater benefit?” Minutes invested in praying for wisdom will save days spent in overcoming mistakes. To advance in joy, first retreat with God! (142)

 

What gets impressed in your heart gets expressed in your circumstances. (142)

 

Consider your mind healthy if it works FOR you instead of against you. A healthy mind serves up thoughts that release your full potential. A healthy mind keeps your attention on your intention. It looks ahead and harbors a clear vision for the future. A healthy mind produces joy, like a healthy body produces energy. It agrees with God’s promises. And a healthy, disciplined mind craves direction, growth, and challenge. (147)

 

Your conscious mind can hold only one thought at a time, positive or negative. The only way to eliminate a negative or counterproductive thought is to replace it with a positive, empowering thought. (155)

 

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.”  –Albert Schweitzer

 

When you experience a sense of gratitude, it means that you have been harboring thoughts of appreciation for the abundance in your life. When you feel a sense of deficiency, it does not necessarily mean that you are lacking something important. What it does mean is that you have recently been thinking about what is absent, very likely to the exclusion of what is present. (173)

 

Gratitude is the cornerstone of an unstoppable attitude. (173)

 

If gratitude is so vital, why isn’t everybody doing it? Because it is both a skill and a feeling. It is a choice and a reaction. (174)

 

 

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