Stinkin’ Thinkin’

by

Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) says, “For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he…”

Our thoughts are very powerful. I’ve read that the path to creativity is “thought” then “word” then “deed” (or action). Our deeds create a large part of our experience, but the thought to do the deeds comes first. Controlling our thoughts can therefore affect a large part of our experience.

I believe almost all thought can be divided into two categories: positive and/or negative. Negative thinking is what some call “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

The question then becomes what does “stinkin’ thinkin’” do to your health? And, on the other side of the coin, how does positive thinking affect your health? And then finally, what is our responsibility concerning our health?

From what I’ve read, it is a proven fact that stress can cause illness. I’m guessing that stress is often times a result of “stinkin’ thinkin’”—thoughts like “I’ve got to get all of this done today” or “I’m worthless” or “I’m stupid” or “I’m bad” or “I can’t do this, because I have to do that.”

How much healthier would we be if we thought positive thoughts instead, such as “I am only human” or “I am loved” or “I am smart” or “God loves me” or “I can.”

If we are the temple of God, maybe God has called us not only to stay pure of known evils and vices, but also to do our very best to stay healthy and therefore pure of negative thinking and stress. And if the Spirit of God dwells in our temple, maybe the more in touch with that Spirit we are the more ALIVE we will feel.

Just food for “thought.” Speaking of food—we will talk about that soon.

“Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission.” From The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Sometimes people just aren’t given enough time to adjust their lives and thinking. Sometimes illnesses are just too aggressive. And, who knows? Maybe, some people are called to illness to teach their caregivers life lessons. Some things just aren’t cut and dry.

But, let’s keep our minds open to the possibilities and miracles given to us by the Great Physician through faith.

Something to think about for next week:
“…Dr. David R. Hawkins rates the energy level of basic human emotions on a scale of 1 to 1,000, stating that anything hitting 200 or lower will be destructive of life both for the individual and for the society, while anything above that level represents constructive expressions of power. Here’s his rankings: Shame=20, Guilt=30, Apathy=50, Grief=75, Fear=100, Desire=125, Anger=150, Pride=175, Courage=200, Neutrality (no judgment)=250, Willingness=310, Acceptance=350, Reason=400, Love=500, Joy=540, Peace=600, Enlightenment=700-1,000.” From The pH Miracle for Weight Loss by Robert O. Young, PhD and Shelley Redford Young.

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9 Responses to “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”

  1. JD Says:

    I really like this post. I catch myself sometimes caught up in a cynical thought pattern. I appreciate the encouragement here.

  2. Annie Says:

    “Sometimes people just aren’t given enough time to adjust their lives and thinking. Sometimes illnesses are just too aggressive. And, who knows? Maybe, some people are called to illness to teach their caregivers life lessons.”

    I can never accept the idea that God would cause someone to become ill simply to teach the rest of us “life lessons.”

    A friend and Air Force Academy classmate of mine, Kristin, is 27 years old and she’s dying from cervical cancer. She has been fighting the disease for the past year and half. She underwent chemotherapy and a hysterectomy, and initially doctors thought she had beaten it. Her friends and family were grateful for the good outlook, although the hysterectomy ended Kristin’s dreams of having children with her soon-to-be husband.

    The cancer returned several months later, much worse than before. Kristin had to make the decision to operate or undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy would only prolong her life. The operation itself was high-risk, and it would have involved removing all of Kristin reproductive organs, including her colon, rectum and vagina. I apologize for the gruesome portrayal, but I wanted to put you to the task of deciding whether you could make the decision to undergo this kind of operation in an attempt to remove the cancer (even though it wouldn’t have guaranteed 100% removal, and think of the quality of life afterward), or undergo chemotherapy to simply prolong your life?? That was the decision Kristin had to make, but the decision was ultimately made for her because no doctor was willing to operate.

    So Kristin is currently undergoing chemotherapy, but she’s not sitting around waiting to die. Kristin is a faithful child of God, and she is living her life as though she will live forever. She has refused to let the disease take over her faith in God and in herself. She recently got married and is on her honeymoon as I write this. I wasn’t at the wedding, but I heard she looked absolutely radiant, despite the fact that she probably weighed less than 100 pounds. Will all this positive thinking and positive living make the cancer go away? Let’s hope so, because medical science has run out of ideas.

    All of us in her circle of friends have not stopped asking, “Why is this happening to her?” Certainly not to teach us a lesson, although we have all been amazed at Kristin’s attitude throughout her ordeal. When I’m freaking out over petty little problems, I try to think of Kristin, and it puts things in perspective. My friends say the same thing. I’m sure Kristin’s doctors have learned from treating her disease. I’m sure Kristin’s family and her new husband have learned life lessons as well. We’re all better people because of Kristin. So what? Surely she wasn’t called on to die so that the rest of us can live with the life lessons Kristin leaves behind. I can’t accept that at all.

  3. annie Says:

    Sorry for the gloomy (and long) post above. I certainly believe in the power of positive thinking, but it would be nice if it worked more often in those circumstances beyond our control. Positive thinking doesn’t cure cancer, but it does bring peace, and maybe that’s all we can ask for.

  4. DocWatson Says:

    The power of positive thinking is a wonderful addition to your arsenal of weapons used to face the battles of life. It would be great to know that if we have a positive outlook on life that all of our troubles would go away. That is simply not the case. What it provides us with is the ability to look at those trials and tribulations and manage them more effectively. As a dentist I see patients daily with both positive and negative attitudes. Having a great attitude is not going to heal that tooth and prevent it from a root canal, but the patients with a better attitude enjoy themselves more and are more accepting of the appropriate treatment. I also enjoy working on the people with a positive attitude much more. Their outlook spills over to me and I think it makes me be diligent in my treatment of them.

  5. Duane McCrory Says:

    Good words to think about.

    Annie, thanks for adding a good dissenting voice to the discussion. It is good to have another woman’s voice on this blog.

    I’m not sure I understand Dr. Hawkins’ system (which I hope will be clarified next week), but to have grief as 75 I think misunderstands the need for and purpose of grief.

    When we encounter losses in life, whether a loved one, a job, our health in Kristin’s case, or even an image of ourselves that is shattered, the proper response is grief. I’m not sure why it is labeled “negative thinking”, but without it, we never really recover from our losses in life. While it might be inherently negative in the “thinking” category, it is also completely and entirely necessary for the healing process to occur. See any of H. Norman Wright’s books on grief and you’ll understand more of what I mean.

    From a biblical perspective, fully 1/3 of the Psalms can be labeled “Lament” psalms. They are psalms in which the author cries out to God in pain for relief from his/her current crisis. There are many times in the prophets as well where these laments occur. The lesson from this: grief is a necessary part of life, especially considering that we don’t know the answer to the “why?” question. In lament, we take our pain, anger, frustration, whatever to God and through our grief he walks alongside us in our pain to heal us. That is not a negative outcome, even if the initial thinking/thought process is.

    Those who avoid grief at the time of their losses will ultimately have to face up to it later on in life (see H. Norman Wright for this concept as well in Recovering from the Losses in Life).

    Would this then be “the power of negative thinking?” I’m not sure, but I wanted to add a little more to the discussion of the need for grief, especially sincerity and honesty before God, that promotes the healing process.

  6. Annie Says:

    Thanks Duane. I always welcome your words and insight. I agree with you that grief is necessary, and if dealt with appropriately, it is an opportunity to bring us closer to God.

    My question now is, what can we do to prepare ourselves for the inevitable grief over losing a dear friend? We’re in a strange purgatory of grief right now, knowing that Kristin will most like die within the next year, but holding on to a scintilla of hope that perhaps she’ll beat the odds. It seems like the more we hope for a miracle, the greater our anguish will be when Kristin succumbs to the cancer. But we don’t want to accept her death now because she is still very much alive.

  7. Duane McCrory Says:

    Annie,

    I wish I had a great answer for you. In some sense, I wish I could make all the pain go away and that Kristin’s cancer could just be healed. I still do not understand the ways of God. Why does he seem to heal some and not others? Some would say that people whose prayers for healing are not answered just don’t have enough faith. I don’t buy that at all! I struggle because I KNOW, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God CAN heal someone, no matter how desperate their situation and no matter how bad their health is. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t do it more often. I don’t understand why such a faithful, strong Christian as Kristin is should be forced to face the possibility/probability of death at such an early age. I had an aunt who died of cancer in her 30s, who was a faithful Christian married to a missionary and had two young children. They tried the most aggressive treatment they could, but to no avail. And I know that at least hundreds of faithful Christians were praying for her healing, but it did not happen.

    I also hate the answer God gives Job, mainly because it is not an answer. It is a question. Basically God asks Job, “Do you think you can run the universe better than I can?” That’s not an answer! Job still never learns why he ever had to suffer to begin with. He doesn’t ever know the dialogue God had with Satan. All he knows is that he lost his kids and all his stuff for no apparent reason. I have a really hard time with that answer!

    But to get closer to an idea as to how to try to answer your question, let me ramble a bit more about the issue. The hardest thing with a diagnosis like Kristin’s (which I know I don’t have to tell you, but I hope this is for others’ benefit) is dealing with all of the ups and downs of her condition. You want to enjoy the remaining time you have with her, but you also feel deep grief and sadness over the loss you know (or feel) is inevitable. Sometimes you feel so happy about the time you have with her and her positive attitude that you want to rejoice (jump up and down, whatever) while at other times you feel so sad about the prospect of losing her that you just feel like you want to cry for hours. You might feel angry at the world, the situation, and at God. It can be and usually is a roller coaster of emotions. That is why cookie-cutter answers just won’t do.

    It is a loss that is happening right now, but has not happened yet. You go back and forth through grief because it is a loss, but it is not. She’s still here. (I hope I’m making some sense here.) [As a side note, it is the same reason why divorce is so hard on the kids and the spouse(s). It is a recurring loss. Every time you see or deal with the person again, you’re reminded of the loss that is real, but not completely permanent because you have to continually deal with the person. BTW, I have a sister going through this right now.]

    How do you prepare for an anticipated loss? I’m not sure that you can adequately prepare. You don’t fully know what feelings you will experience and the flood of emotions you might have when she passes. What you can do is enjoy the good times you still have with her, but be genuine and honest with God (and close friends, when necessary) in the times you are struggling with the pain of losing her.

    I’m not sure why, but Ecclesiastes just came to my mind as something worth talking about. The writer struggles with the meaninglessness of life and tries everything possible to find meaning. What he comes down to is enjoyment of the present (as I read the text). He does not like the thought of toil, but finds meaning in enjoying the satisfaction it brings as well as the enjoyment in eating and drinking (with friends and family I think can be assumed in the Jewish context), the daily stuff we tend to overlook in life (2:24-25). He talks about the burden God has placed upon people, but then sees the gift in enjoying our time with friends and loved ones in the daily fellowship we have on earth (3:9-13), even calling it “the gift of God.” I realize this is a Carpe Diem approach to life, but there’s a lesson to be learned, I think, since we don’t know how much time we have here either. The writer reminds us not to overlook the pleasure God has given us in the daily circumstances of life, not to be so future-oriented that we overlook the joy of the present. Yet, he too struggles with the harshness of the present reality as well.

    Annie, I hope my ramblings have helped some, but I think more importantly, just know that my prayers will continue for Kristin and that I (and many others!) are here for you when you need a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board to express your thoughts, or even a punching bag to which you can give your anger. God is present even when he seems absent.

  8. Annie Says:

    Thank you for the uplifting advice Duane. I passed your words on to a good friend who also needed the encouragement, and she is truly appreciative. I’m very blessed to have a friend like you.

  9. Duane McCrory Says:

    Annie,

    I had hoped there was at least something helpful from what I said. I really appreciate and feel blessed by the friendship we have as well.

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