It is estimated that we humans think an average of 60,000 thoughts a day. Can that be? I can hardly believe it! I tried to count my thoughts one day, but somehow it just didn’t work.
Likewise, it was found that only 3% of our thoughts are positive or helpful for us or others. Twenty-five percent of thoughts are supposedly detrimental. The remaining 72% are just fleeting or insignificant thoughts. I do not know if the numbers are estimates, but the fact is that we all think. From the early morning to the late night, we think. Sometimes, our thoughts trail into the midnight hour.
The Bible also speaks of thinking people. In Job 1:5, we read: “For Job thought” (CEB), and in 1 Chronicles 22:5, we find: “David thought” (CEB). In Isaiah 55:8-9, God speaks in regard to men: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” Luke reports in his gospel account (5:22, NIV): “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?’”
By nature, the thoughts of humans run in the direction of “evil.” “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,” declared Jesus (Matthew 15:19). A person needs an all-encompassing renewal that also reforms his way of thinking. Therefore, the prophet Isaiah addresses this point openly (55:7): “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
To the brothers and sisters in Rome, Paul writes and exhorts them not to conform to the world, adding: “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). That means that our thoughts (mind) should be regulated by the Word of God.
Perhaps you are asking yourself why this article is found on the Seniors’ page. It is a valid question. When a person finds themselves in retirement and their desires and abilities are restricted, they spend more time within their four walls and can no longer participate in general happenings like before. It is exactly in such situations that various thoughts come. A person sits in their favorite chair, rocking back and forth, thinking about this and that. Thoughts run rampant. So, when considering thoughts in general and the number “60,000 thoughts a day,” this does not seem so far-fetched after all.
In the previously-mentioned study, thoughts were classified into three main categories: helpful, detrimental, and insignificant. If you think about your own thoughts, thoughts that come to a person of senior age, you are led to contemplation. Of course, we only want to give room to helpful (useful and positive) thoughts. Who wants to think detrimental and harmful thoughts? The fact is that the Bible even speaks of sinful thoughts. May God keep us from that!
Why is this all so important? If our thoughts go in a wrong direction, they will affect our entire lives. Other people (spouse, family, children) are also affected. What and how we are today is the result of our thoughts. Thoughts form us and our perspective on life. The person who thinks negatively slowly but surely develops into a negative person. In contrast, a person who thinks positively remains thankful and pleasant and is a blessing for others, despite aging. In plain language: We are architects of our own destinies. A person can either be his greatest enemy or best friend because of his thoughts.
And where do our thoughts come from? We “create” some of them ourselves. Others come from people around us. The Holy Spirit also gives us thoughts, and Satan whispers his destructive evil dogma into the “ears” of our mind. We have “thought into” a lot of things in our lives. For example, consider fear and worry. When these find entrance to our world of thoughts and are accepted and developed, then our surroundings darken and our lives become unbearable. If such a person has friends who think alike, who add to those fears and worries, then sadness will ensue. Thoughts can terrorize us, rob us of our appetite and sleep, and, in terms of health, even shorten our life. If you think about it, it becomes apparent how important it is to employ “guards” for our thoughts.
Let me remind you once again of Jesus’ question: “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” (Luke 5:22, NIV) Now it becomes very personal. Jesus is speaking to you and me just as He did to those listeners. Each person will obviously judge their own thoughts favorably. But wouldn’t our view stretch if we had the courage to let dear people within our sphere answer this question?
Not all thoughts are worth thinking. You need to be able to discern in situations like these. Some thoughts have to simply be ruthlessly eliminated before they do us harm. Let me show you a few of these types of thoughts:
1. Thoughts of self-pity: “No one likes me. I am forgotten by everyone. What awful things people have done to me! No one understands me.”
2. Thoughts that have to do with our past. The past cannot be changed. If God has forgiven us and we have tried to make things right, it is not worthwhile to continue thinking about it. It is best to leave the past where it belongs: in the past. Let go of the past.
3. Thoughts that begin with the words: “If only I had….” You accuse yourself and condemn your own decisions.
4. Thoughts that question God’s Word, resulting in the growth of doubts.
5. Thoughts where we question our “fate” (God’s way with us).
6. Thoughts that focus on things that cannot be changed. What can be changed should be changed. What cannot be changed should be abandoned to God.
7. Thoughts that deal with other people and where we put their mistakes under a magnifying glass and amplify them. We are not responsible for others.
8. Thoughts in which we compare ourselves to others; thoughts that eventually even awaken jealousy in us.
If you were to expand this list, you would notice that the person themselves almost always stands at the center of their thoughts. Everything revolves around them. Such thoughts that are essentially useless. Not only that, they drag us down, make us tired and frail, darken our path and future, and lead us to become unthankful and grumpy. No, this should not happen to us! We have to think differently and let our attitude be transformed. Do you want to know how to do that? The apostle Paul gives us a brilliant tip, which we find in his letter to the church in Philippi. He writes: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
Everything begins with our thoughts. The impact of them has a far-reaching effect.
Watch your thoughts, for they become your words.
Watch your words, for they become your actions.
Watch your actions, for they become your habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Why don’t you fold your hands right now and let your thoughts turn into a prayer? “Lord, free me of all wrong thoughts and give me victory to think in line with your Word. Help me to glorify You even in my world of thoughts. Amen.”