Despite being trained as a journalist and having worked for newspapers, I rarely turn on the television news or thoroughly read a newspaper anymore.
What gets reported largely is what happened in the past, and I cannot change what happened. I can only react to it and let it affect me. Because much of it is negative or sad, and even confrontational, it affects me negatively. It puts me in a funk.
What we allow in our minds is even more important than what we allow in our mouths.
This week, departing from my routine, I chose to listen to an 11-hour long fiction audio book. I find myself engrossed by fiction, carried along by a good story, and I was riveted by this tale. But I didn’t like how it ended, and throughout the narrative I found myself annoyed by all of the characters – even a toddler!
Although I appreciated the suspense and the detailed, descriptive writing, I could hardly wait until the book ended. As soon as I removed the download, I knew I needed to replace it with something fresh and uplifting to help pull me out of my story-induced irritation.
I prefer non-fiction books, but my schedule doesn’t lend itself well to sitting and reading for long periods. I’ve started listening to audiobooks, and several months ago, I discovered podcasts. I’ve been working these typically short, focused episodes into my day whenever possible – listening while on a run or in my car. Spending time focusing on myself and what I can control is much more enriching than listening to people on a TV screen yell at each other or recount details of the latest violent crime.
If you too are looking for some tools to help you focus on the positive and move forward, here are 3 ideas for infusing good stuff into your mind and heart:
- The First 5 app. If you want to develop a discipline for personal Bible reading and reflection, this free app from Proverbs 31 Ministries will prompt you to spend the first 5 minutes of your day doing just that. You can set a morning alarm through the app, and when it goes off, the day’s reading opens. Learn more about it at first5.org
- Podcasts. Is there someone whose outlook on life you appreciate? See if they have a podcast, which you can download to a smartphone from GooglePlay or iTunes and listen as you have time. The EntreLeadership Podcast from Dave Ramsey and This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt are two that I have appreciated greatly.
- Social media feeds. So much of what comes across our news feeds can be mundane or even antagonistic, unless you’re intentional about adding in the good stuff. On Facebook or Twitter, follow people who have a positive outlook and something helpful to share. Make sure you adjust your settings so that you see their posts in your news feed. Hide those who are constantly negative. You can still be friends, but you don’t have to subject yourself to their negativity.“We bring about what we think about.” I’ve heard that quote for years, and I’m often reminded of its truth. By paying attention to what we put into our minds, and what we don’t, we can improve our days and become who we were meant to be.
Who do you give access to your mind? Do they treat it with respect?
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