What do you do when you have a mild depression hanging around your head or you are unfocused in your life?
After all, Northern Michigan in the Fall can be a letdown for some. The days are shorter, the trees start to lose their leaves, it is colder and damp, outdoor activities are different (i.e. time on the lake or the beach), and the busyness of the kid’s sports and school schedule can suck the life out of us.
Life is demanding.
This November (and Thanksgiving Season), practice the Biblical principle of Thankfulness/Gratitude found in Colossians 3.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts, for as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
We can start with our thoughts!
Over the past several years I have learned a lot about the science behind our thoughts. Our brain can do some extraordinary things as it processes our thoughts. For instance, for years I struggled with a porn addiction that started in my teen years – this was a major sin issue in my life. The Bible informs us that there is physical and mental damage that affects a person who is involved in addictive sins (read Romans 1). What’s more, there is scientific evidence that confirms what the Bible has taught for years.
There are 3 chemicals the brain produces during the engagement of deviant behavior (addictive) and each chemical is extremely addictive. WHOA! No wonder pornography is such a huge issue for guys today and a secret sin for many (for more info and the science behind it consider Dr. Mark Laaser’s work with Faithful and True Ministries).
But what does this have to do with Thanksgiving and Gratitude? Just as there are addictive chemicals being produced in the brain during deviant activities there are also addictive chemicals being produced each time we have positive or negative thoughts. Dr. Daniel Amen talks about it in The Daniel Plan (The Daniel Plan, 40 Days to a Healthier Life – Chapter 6 FOCUS). He states that our emotions will drive our behavior:
- Getting your mind right will lead to overall health
- Our thoughts impact our health
- Positive thoughts produce positive chemicals in the brain, while negative thoughts will produce negative chemicals in the brain.
Thanksgiving and Gratitude go hand in hand.
I remember several years ago I was struggling with slight depression. I was just out of college and working my first job. At the time, I was living and working in Hagerstown, MD, as a school teacher and Youth Pastor. I loved my role and the people I worked with; however, the first few months were very tough on me because I moved out there and didn’t know anyone. I remember one November night I was home alone and extremely down mentally. I started to have extremely negative thoughts about my life and how lonely I was. And it was at that moment that I heard God talking to my heart. He told me to take a piece of paper out and start writing down all the things I should be thankful for. I obeyed and I’m glad I did.
As the evening went on, I came up with several pages of things I was thankful for… I just walked around my apartment listing off all the stuff that I had acquired (free) just to have my apartment furnished. I also listed off all kinds of other stuff that God provided for me and as I said I had a page worth of items. After completing the list I sat down on my chair and a feeling of gratitude came over me…I could not explain it at the time but my feelings of depression had drifted away. Now, as I read articles by Dr. Laaser and Dr. Amen, it makes sense to me. As I thought about how lonely I was my brain was producing negative chemicals and when I was thinking about how thankful I was I started producing positive chemicals in my brain. Both chemicals are addictive and perpetuate over time. So, think about this – Negative people tend to be negative because they are actually addicted to their negative thoughts. Ouch!
Talk About It!
- Do you tend to be negative, especially this time of year (less sun and warmth)? Then come up with your gratitude list. Check out Traci Castaneda she has some great ideas on her blog.
- Start investigating your negative thoughts to see if you are believing lies about yourself or circumstances in your life. Yes, life sucks sometimes – but many times it’s not as bad as we think, so start processing your thoughts.
- Share your thoughts with your friends. If you are feeling down then talk with them and remember to thank them for listening and end the conversation on a positive note.