My mind is absolutely my own. What enters it and lodges in it and colors it is under my jurisdiction.
Watch your thoughts. Catch yourself up when you find yourself thinking unwholesome or unworthy thoughts.
Say to yourself many times each day, "Today I accept the peace, love, and joy of God."
I THINK it came to me as one of the profoundest realizations of my life that my mind is absolutely my own. What enters it and lodges in it and colors it is under my jurisdiction. My thoughts are really under my control, and likewise my moods and emotions, although I had previously thought that these were in the nature of powerful waves that washed up over a man from external conditions to bend him to their will.
One day I was wishing that there might be more peace, order, and beauty in my life, and suddenly the thought came to me “How about your mind — couldn’t you improve conditions a little there?” So I stood off, as it were, and peered into my own mind, gazing at the thoughts milling around in a disordered fashion, and I was horrified by the first intentional inventory. There were grudges, grievances, doubts, worries, preoccupation with physical ailments. Everything in the world seemed to have gone wrong or threatened to go wrong. That day I had “the blues.”
That day I also started setting my mind in order. I resolved sincerely to keep a closer watch over my thoughts. I resolved to honor my mind and guard it against unlovely thoughts. I set up a kind of mental signboard: “My mind is a place of loveliness, and ugly visitors are not welcome.” The sustaining thought came to me “Keep your mind an open channel for God.” I prayed to God to help me, and He did.
I have often thanked Him that He prompted me to look to my mind, to take an inventory of what is really harbored there, to cherish what is desirable and to throw out what is not. This is something any of us, under any circumstances, can do. It is what we should do.
Your mind is your own. It is your own place. You have the absolute say-so as regards what shall enter and dwell there. This fact should be a source of renewed strength and joy to you. You are the absolute arbiter. Of course it will require watchfulness, alertness, fidelity, and sincere desire on your part. Yet it rests with you and is within your capacities. Any good gardener is on the lookout for weeds, wants to pull them up, and is perfectly able to pull them up. He gives his loving attention to the plants that will blossom into beauty. So with you. If you then encounter difficulties that seem too great for human control, you can always have recourse to God. You can turn to Him, ask His help, and put the tangled garden of your mind in His care. He will surely help you to get it back in order.
You will be surprised how much you can do for yourself, if only you set about it. You will be surprised at the number of weeds, at the many kinds already rooted, perhaps hidden, but ready to pop up at a moment’s notice. Ugly, fearsome weeds. Thoughts of doubt and fear. Criticism and condemnation. Ranklings and bitternesses. Pain and sickness, sorrow, limitation, lack. Worry and anxiety, weakness and inertia. Disagreeable conditions and circumstances. Thoughts along these lines are weeds. They mar and foul the fair areas of your mind. Don’t let them remain for a minute, don’t nurture them. Get rid of them as quickly as possible. Pull them up and throw them out. Your mind is your own place, and you don’t want ugly things in it. You want it filled with that which will, in turn, fill your life with joy, peace, love, order, harmony, and beauty.
You may think you have no power over the conditions that fill your life, the thoughts that fill your mind. Nothing is falser than this belief, which in itself is a destructive weed. You have the power, and you may exercise it in accordance with your desire, purpose, integrity, and perseverance.
The sorry fact is that we often really do not want to give up our error thoughts. It is very difficult to give up our grudges. We seem to like to cling to them. We like to exaggerate our ailments and troubles. We like to dramatize them and ourselves. We actually derive a certain morbid pleasure from our “organ recitals” and misfortunes. We want our sufferings to seem a bit worse than the other fellow’s. We have had a harder time than most people, and we want everybody to realize just what a hard time we have had. All this is very human. We like sympathy. If other people won’t feel properly sorry for us, we make up for it by feeling sorry for ourselves—one of the most debasing processes that can go on in the human organism. We hug our resentments.
If we indulge ourselves in this way, we shall have a fine harvest of weeds, a harvest that won’t be pleasant. Sometimes our mind gets so choked with weeds that it is difficult to disentangle and clear it even when we earnestly wish to do so. Then is the time to pray, to cast off every thought pertaining to the outer, every personal conception, and turn to God; to turn the attention to His realm, which is “a realm of light and love, joy and supply, back of the sense world of limitation.”
What a source of strength and help it is to realize and accept this truth! God’s realm of love and peace and beauty that can never be marred or destroyed or taken away! Inexhaustible and unassailable! Always there, awaiting our recognition, there for us to think about to our fill! Peace, love, and joy flowing to us in an inexhaustible tide. Probably before this we had formed the very human habit of looking solely to outer circumstances for our happiness and in doing so had been cheated or betrayed. It is a wonderful experience when we realize that joy is a thing of the spirit, transcendent; that instead of being dependent on circumstances, it has itself the power to bring about happy circumstances. Train yourself therefore to acknowledge this spiritual gift, which is dependable, always at hand awaiting reception into your mind. Remember it and think of it. What a wonderful thought to let enter your mind! Say to yourself every morning and many times each day:
“Today I accept the peace, love, and joy of God.”
These gifts will surely flow into your thoughts, into your mind. They will transform your mind. They will transform your body, your life, your world.
God’s joy is always at hand, yours for the taking. But you must take it yourself, give it a place in your thoughts. And you must make a place for it; that is, drop many other thoughts from your mind. Several years ago I read a statement that greatly impressed me. It was to the effect that as soon as we make and keep our thoughts fifty-one per cent constructive our battle is won. Our life will take an upswing.
Sometimes we meet people who seem to have lost all their energy, enthusiasm, aspiration, and their very capacity for caring. Perhaps you have reached that place yourself, or at least have days of weariness, boredom, futility, and de- pression. Most of us have known such days. Then if we are sincere in our desire to be uplifted, it is good for us to turn to the Father and pray:
“Father, help me to love life“
If we are sincere, He will help us. The way He usually helps is by helping us to weed out the thoughts that are choking our minds and substitute for them thoughts that will grow and flourish to a happier and more beautiful fulfillment.
Love—we may think that we know all about love, that we have given proper attention to it. But to what degree do we really keep our minds filled with freeing, kind, tolerant, generous thoughts toward people, conditions, circumstances, even toward life? It comes to us with a shock to face the situation squarely and to discover that we really do not love life, that we are tired of it, bored with it, disgusted with it, defeated by it. In that case there is one prime thing for us to do. We must do it quickly. It is as important a thing as we shall ever find to do. We must somehow reawaken our friendly feeling for life, re-establish friendly relations with it. For life is God’s supreme gift to us. In our dire straits the first and the best procedure is simply to throw ourselves on God. If you feel discouraged, if you feel tired, if you feel all out of sorts, if you do not know what to do turn to Him with these words:
“Father, help me to love life.”
The Father will hear you. He will answer you, He will help you. As soon as you face the matter and tell Him about it, you will begin to feel better. You will be relieved, rested, encouraged. You will find yourself getting a different slant on things, new ideas will present themselves, a new strength will arise in you, energy to carry on. You will think differently, speak differently, move differently, act differently. You will find yourself disposed to feel more patient, more tolerant—even cheerful. Unexpectedly you will run into a kindness; you will be appreciative of it, responsive. Life isn’t so bad after all. You find your interest awakening, perhaps your enthusiasm, your confidence—you are expectant! Something pleasant and delightful happens—you are keyed to receive it. An opportunity presents itself—you catch at it eagerly. It’s a good world after all—full of interest, activity, and promise. In the selfsame world—and perhaps under not greatly changed conditions—you feel like an entirely different person. Your thoughts have changed their color and trend. You are responsive to life again. God has answered your prayer.
In an orderly, harmonious, established mind there is no place for grudges and grievances. There must not be if it is to attain peace. Human relationships often offer the trickiest and most subtle obstructions, especially our private, unspoken thoughts. It doesn’t do much good to refrain from angry or critical speech if we seethe inwardly with unspoken condemnations. They poison us within, and we throw off poison into the very air. So we must weed up those thoughts promptly and resolutely. By whatever process we must rid ourselves of them. This is one of the most insidiously difficult tasks the human mind has to accomplish, requiring watchfulness and absolute sincerity. We must want to keep our minds clean, lovely, and harmonious, to harbor only thoughts that are freeing, generous, and kind. We must root out every lurking, secret impulse of criticism and condemnation. Yes: often it is difficult. The unwanted thoughts creep up on us unawares. It requires patience and perseverance, trying and trying again; but it can be done.
Sometimes it helps, when thinking of the person who arouses our secret criticism, to say in thought:
“You too are a child of God. You too are heir to His peace, love, joy, and illimitable bounty. You too are seeking to find and know your divine relationship. You want to be radiant and loving, kind and generous and. happy, even as I do.”
Sometimes it helps most just to put the matter in the hands of the Father, asking Him to take care of it for us, and then try to forget about it. I know a woman who accomplished marvelous results both within her own mind and in a discordant environment by quickly praying at every appearance of inharmony:
“Father, I thank Thee for Thine unseen presence and for the divine harmony that blesses this home.”
Very often our human emotions cheat and betray us. The human way is to let them have sway. We think they can’t be conquered, or else we do not bother to think about them and just give them their head. They can be mastered. They must be if our minds are to be peaceful. If our minds find the way to peace, our lives will become peaceful. Over and over I have found this prayer efficacious:
“Today I accept the peace, love, and joy of God.”
If your mind and the conditions of your life are disordered, try it. Remember it the first thing when you wake in the morning. Remember it often during the day, under all kinds of outer conditions and circumstances:
“Today I accept the peace, love, and joy of God.”
It is a wonderful thought to reflect that your joy is from God. All your joy. It is. Nothing can affect it or take it away. Say to yourself:
“I am unified with all the joy there is.”
Feel the universal joy flowing into you. You are attuned to the joy of the universe. You will grow responsive to this realization, you will learn to rely on it, you will expand under it and find poise and happiness. You will learn how to deal with your negative moods and emotions and find strength, wisdom, and courage.
It requires great courage and wisdom to deal with grief. Grief is utterly personal, it is very human, it all but overcomes us; but grief never helps. It is difficult, however we try to deal with it. It is apt to master us and often does. Often it seems heartless to try to master it; it seems heartless to try to let go of it. But what good do we achieve by clinging to it, either for ourselves or for anyone else? Is it not better to lift the human mind up toward God and give this load, too, into His care? “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah.” The hour of grief is the time of times when we must turn to God, to His light, His enduring promises, His strength, security, and love. No human power or wisdom can help us then. Only God. Let Him through.
“I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.” There is beauty and peace in fearlessness, and beauty and peace will reign in your mind when it is filled with fearless thoughts, thoughts of divine guidance and protection.
Do not allow yourself to become fearful and anxious even for the safety of your loved ones. Again, it requires courage to relinquish personal thoughts and fears. But be courageous in this way: Let the fear thoughts go and give your dear ones over to God. Remember who and what God is. Surely you can trust Him! Let your reliance on Him so fill your mind that it will blot out every thought of fear. Instead of worrying and fretting in the human way, lift your mind up until it can hold this thought for your dear ones:
“God is taking care of you. The Spirit of the Lord watches over you and keeps you in perfect safety. His Spirit is now guarding, protecting, inspiring, and guiding you in all your ways.”
This thought illumines and calms your mind. It gives comfort, brings peace. It produces tranquillity and strength. It helps you and helps your dear ones. Instead of holding over them the shadow of your worry and tension you are blessing them by your thought. Let your every thought be a blessing.
Watch your thoughts. Catch yourself up when you find yourself thinking unwholesome or unworthy thoughts. Say to yourself, “Would Jesus think this?” Try to imagine what Jesus would think in its stead; and try to think—dare to think—the Christ thought of love, wisdom, security, joy, and peace.
It requires patience, determination, imagination, faith, and sincere desire to build your mind toward loveliness. It requires perseverance. But it can be done. Almost at once your efforts begin producing results in the outer. Fifty-one per cent—get across the halfway mark in your percentage of constructive thought and your goal is won!
Like every other training enterprise it becomes easier with practice. Your mood is your response to conditions around you. If it is favorable to your peace, happiness, and achievement, make use of it. If it isn’t favorable, drop it, change it. You can!—by changing your point of view, your trend of thought, your habits of mind, even by temporarily changing your occupation. Do something for a while that is entirely different, that interests you, that you enjoy doing. Shift the focus of your attention. If a thought disturbs you, drop it. Turn to something pleasanter. If you seem unable to find a pleasant thought, manufacture one. In fact you are not manufacturing it, for in reality there are plenty of pleasant thoughts divinely true. But you have to open your mind to them. Marvelously beneficial results have been attained by the simple process of making a list of pleasant, happy, desirable things and dwelling on these from time to time during the day.
The color and content of the mind are strictly up to the individual, regardless of outer circumstances. If your “frame of mind” and your thoughts are unsatisfactory you can change them. Sometimes it may seem difficult to do, but it can be done. Your mind is your own, and you are the sole arbiter. It is up to you.
Remind yourself that you are one with all peace and love and joy everywhere.
Coax your thoughts. Be kind to them. Give them a new impetus, fresh attention.
Your moods do not depend on outer circumstances. The reverse is true. Say to yourself:
Today I accept the peace, love, and joy of God.
There is a realm of light and love, joy and supply back of the limitations of the sense world.
My mind is an open channel for God. I think His thoughts after Him.
My mind is a place of loveliness. No ugly thought can enter there.
Father, let Thy kingdom come forth on earth as it is established in the realm of divine harmony.