Sunday, December 19, 2010

If You're in a Bad Mood, Have a Cup of Tea

"Tea is wealth itself, because there is nothing that cannot be lost, no problem that will not disappear, no burden that will not float away, between the first sip and the last."
The Minister of Leaves

I don't know who "The Minister of Leaves" is, but I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiment about tea.  Just the act of brewing a nice hot cup of tea, then enjoying drinking the nectar slowly and mindfully, interjects such a pleasant moment of repose into my day. 

As a bonus, it's very likely that whatever negative thoughts I was turning over in my mind before preparing my cup of tea will have wafted away by the time my cup is empty.

There must be hundreds of wonderful flavors and numerous types of tea available.  I prefer to go caffeine free, so I particularly enjoy Bigelow's Mint Medley (actually an herbal tea, but readily available in my small town). 

While the water is coming to a boil, I open the teabag wrapper and with a couple of deep breaths, I draw in the tea's soothing minty aroma.  My mind and body relax, and a peaceful feeling immediately follows.  Once the tea has steeped, I lean back on the couch, put my feet up, and just drink in the blessed sweetness of life.

The simple act of having a cup of tea can help put us in a more positive frame of mind.  Think I'll enjoy a cup now!  Care to join me?

"...the Lord turn his face toward you
   and give you peace."
Numbers 6:26

Praying you have a great Monday,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Growing Up, I Wish I Had Read ... "

Then why don't you read it now?!  If there are "Children's Books" you have been meaning to reread, or never read at all, go ahead and indulge, and the sooner, the better! 

If your life has felt a bit somber, sober, serious, lacking..., getting lost in the great children's classics, or new children's books destined to become classics, is a great escape from the daily doldrums. 

I'm not sure why, but I didn't read very many of the well-known children's books growing up, so I've made it a goal to read all the marvelous books I missed.  It's been wonderful to: live on Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables; climb the Big Hill with Betsy-Tacy; have tea with Alice in Wonderland; donate a library with Elizabeth Brown (in The Library by Sarah Stewart); plant lupines with Miss Rumphius; reclaim a garden with Mary Lennox, Dickon, and Colin (The Secret Garden); and solve mysteries with Nancy Drew. 

Male or female, whatever age, you'll have your own list.  There's always Amazon, of course, but this is where your local library is truly a good friend.  If they don't have what you want to read, they can get it for you through interlibrary loan.  I was somewhat embarrassed to check out children's novels, and even picture books-- "for the artwork," don't ya' know-- at first.  But the librarians have told me that many adults check them out to read for themselves.  

Why not, I say!  It's delightful.  And rather than regretting I didn't read them when I was young (which I did briefly at first), I just fully enjoy them now ... while I'm young-at-heart.  My mood is lifted, my well-being enhanced, and it's just another good thing that pushes away negative thoughts.

"And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.' "
Matthew 18:3

May our humble, child-like faith in Jesus propel us to feel the joy of just being alive,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More on Singing to Ourselves

In my last post, I wrote that singing to ourselves in our minds, especially at night (or other quiet times), is calming, comforting, and works well to displace negative thoughts.  The problem is, however, our mind can still wander and let in negative thoughts even while we're singing to ourselves.

Focus is key, or our minds will drift off topic time and time again.  Sometimes our minds are quieted enough that simply singing the songs is enough to keep away unwanted thoughts.  But if our minds are in a turmoil, or even just more active than we want, there's one more thing we can do as we sing.

If I have trouble concentrating on the song the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind to sing, with eyes closed I visualize the words of the song at the same time.  This fully engages my thoughts on the positive message of the song, and negative thoughts creep back only if I lapse in my simultaneously singing and seeing the words. 

I don't know how the lyrics will appear to you in your visualization.  Perhaps it will be like the old-time sing-alongs, with or without the bouncing ball.  Maybe they'll just seem to float by.  Mine sort of scroll by.  But if the devil is battering you with negative thoughts, and saying your thank-yous, reciting Bible verses, and singing are not blocking the thoughts, try visualizing the words as you sing ... or even as you recite Scripture.  But as I mentioned before, for me singing is the most successful method I use in the overnight hours.  And visualizing the words holds my attention longer than does visualizing a pretty scene.  You can experiment to see what works best for you.

I can honestly say that since I began making an effort to practice this method, I have been sleeping better than I have for years.  If I wake at night it doesn't take me two or sometimes three hours to fall back asleep like it often did before.  One minute I'm singing, and the next thing I know it's hours later when I next wake.  If I do wake during the night, I can begin to sing and visualize again.  In the morning I awake far more rested and refreshed, adding to my well-being, which helps sustain a positive outlook during the day.

This is another long post, but I want to touch on one more aspect.  If you don't know many or any hymns, or praise and worship songs, you could use other pleasant/wholesome songs such as nursery songs or old Broadway tunes.  Or who doesn't know the tunes and lyrics to several Christmas songs, particularly since it's the time of year for them?  Start there until you learn other songs that will be especially pleasing to Him (because He'll be listening).

But I really believe the best songs are the many wonderful hymns and praise songs that have been written, because by singing songs that glorify God, we have a connection that we won't feel with the other types of songs.  We'll have that reassuring, peace-enhancing connection with God, our Creator; Jesus, our Savior; and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.  What bliss.  To get you started, remember this one?

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong;
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

"...Sing and make music from your heart
to the Lord."
Ephesians 5:19

"Let the saints be joyful in the glory and beauty [which God confers upon them]; let them sing for joy upon their beds."
Psalm 149:5   (Amplified)

May you be blessed with sound sleep and sweet dreams,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Loosening the Grip of Negative Thoughts

Let the Light Through

I've been reading inspirational books a long time.  A family member, a few years ago, asked me why, since I read so many of those books, was I the way I was.  I could only answer, "Yes, but imagine what I'd be like if I wasn't reading them."

So you can see that I was an incorrigible negative thinker.  Deep down, I rarely saw the bright side of anything.  Eventually I became determined to change, but I discovered a major problem ... I couldn't seem to come up with anything positive to think about.  Well, it's not that I've never had good things to think about, but even if I thought of them, I would slip right back into negative thoughts. 

There was much good, helpful information in all those inspirational books, but something was missing.  If I couldn't latch onto any positive thoughts (at any particular time I was trying to), what was I to do to break my negative thinking habit?

I've utilized three main methods to overcome my miserable condition.  The first two are in most books I've read, but didn't seem to begin working for me until after I began to break free.  They are:
  • Saying my "thank-yous" to God; and
  • Memorizing and reciting Scripture.
But the #1 most successful way I use to break free and stay free from negative thinking is:
  • Singing hymns, and praise and worship songs.  They are easy to learn, easy to repeat- over and over if necessary- to keep unpleasant thoughts at bay, and easy to access mentally as we let various songs to sing drift into our minds as the Spirit leads.
All of the above are done silently, to myself, or out loud if desired and circumstances allow. But practicing them consistently as we are led by the Spirit will break the stronghold of negative thinking!

First, however, as we make use of songs, gratitude, and Scripture, let's be sure we're keeping up with our prayer life.  Many years ago, I read an article on cleaning that mentioned that McDonald's (I think) taught their employees to follow the CAYG rule:  Clean as you go.  We need to pray as we go.  Joyce Meyer says we need to pray our way through the day.  That keeps us receptive to the Spirit's leading.  Let's chat with God all day long.

Silently singing hymns and praise and worship songs we've memorized is especially useful at night when it can be particularly difficult to quiet our active minds.  This method is calming and comforting.  It works to subdue and displace negative thoughts when all else fails.

Reciting Scripture we've memorized works well anytime, but is especially beneficial upon rising and at work.  This method is strengthening, empowering, and energizing.

And "counting our blessings," naming them one by one by saying "Thank you God for _________," helps us throughout the day and night, particularly when we are too exhausted for prayer or Scripture.  This method is humbling and edifying because it reminds us of God's many provisions and that indeed, God is good.  It's entertaining, too, to see how creative we can be in what we thank Him for.

Finally, interwoven throughout any and all of the above should be our personal praise, worship, and adoration for our Holy Father, His Son, and His Spirit, which restores and refreshes us.  As our well-being is improved and fortified, positive thoughts multiply, blocking and nudging away less desirable thoughts.

In future posts I will expand on each of these aids.  I'll have a few other tips that have helped me, as well.  And of course, you can find anything you want to reread under Tools for Overcoming Negative Thinking on the righthand side of the screen.  (Be sure to read Part 2 for another aid I found very helpful.)

We "can do all things through Christ
who strengthens" us.
Philippians 4:13   (NKJV)

Praying this might be helpful,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Love This Book!

Winter House by Charlotte Moss

This is one of my favorite decorating books.  It's gorgeous throughout and makes me "almost" thankful it's wintertime. 

So many of the blogs I read have been talking about keeping cozy during the winter months.  This book has interiors, exteriors, fabric and color scheme suggestions, and suggestions for winter activities.  All done beautifully.

Ms. Moss begins the book: "More than just a home, a winter house is a frame of mind.  It is here you can retreat, relax, recharge, and reconnect with friends, family, and-- last but not least!-- yourself!"

This book is a "must own" and worth a little splurge.  (There's a lovely toile bedroom, too.)  Maybe you should treat yourself to an early Christmas present?

(Edited to add that the decor in this book is traditional, in case your tastes run otherwise.)

Just having fun and enjoying a beautiful Saturday,

Friday, December 3, 2010

50 ways to soothe yourself without food

I'm about two-thirds the way through this book and so far it's been worth the read.  I can't say I find every single suggestion applicable to me, but I plan to write out a list of the ones I think suit me best and give them a trial run, if I haven't already done so.

In becoming a positive thinker, it can be helpful to read material on overcoming depression, anxiety, and addictions, because negative thinking is often a root cause of these conditions.  For that reason, much of that information is applicable to overcoming negative thinking.  (I'm thinking more along the line of inspirational books here.)  

In Susan Albers's book, there is an entire section entitled "change your thoughts, change your eating."  There may be a lack of capitalization in the headings in this book, but there's no lack of ideas ... "self-soothing techniques" abound!  Let's just be sure to run everything through the God filter first!

"...Why sit we here until we die?"
2 Kings 7:3

Learning to do what I can and give what I can't do to God,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stay Alert

Negative thoughts have a way of sneaking up on us!

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
1 Peter 5:7-8