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This Tough Habit to Adopt Can Make a Huge Difference in Your Ability to Succeed

Aug 18, 2007
Thought control. The words conjure up images of oppressive governments or Jim Jones-type religious cults. But if you really want to find success in life, these words could be two of the most powerful you ever consider.

Obviously, I'm not talking about power in terms of some external force controlling what you think. I'm referring to your ability to control your own thoughts. Many people don't think you can control your thoughts. They just happen, so why fight it? This is why we have so much wrong-headed thinking these days. People think whatever they want to, and that always leads to their own destruction.

People can control their thoughts. They do it all the time, especially when they're involved in their work. You've heard of single-minded people. These are people who have their minds set on accomplishing one thing. They have trained their mind, consciously or not, to focus on finishing one task.

In fact, finding success in anything, whether it's business, relationships, health, or any other endeavor, requires you to control your thoughts. Much like a computer, you need to control what goes into your mind, what your mind does with material it doesn't need or shouldn't have, and what your thoughts will focus on.

The Bible tells us, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8). So God expects us to control our thoughts.

In one sense, thought control is easy. Simply telling you to think about some things will get your mind going that direction. But our minds tend to wander. That's when it gets tough. So here are some things to think about as you learn to train your mind.

Thought control requires that you actually think about your thoughts -- and take action on them. Change them, even. Good and productive thoughts don't just happen. You have to make an effort to make them happen. If you've been thinking bad things about your spouse, make an effort to think about their good attributes. Then train your mind to focus on these, not the negatives.

Thought control allows you to use your time wisely. Letting your mind wander is a waste of time. Letting your mind think about evil things is a waste of time. And letting your mind think about others the wrong way will force you to waste a lot of time repairing relationships.

Thought control allows you to control your emotions and your desires. Without thought control, you're more likely to panic in life-threatening situations. But if you train your mind to think, you'll be able to handle the most difficult situations. You'll also be able to control your appetites around the dinner table and in other tempting situations.

Thought control allows you to control your speech. Many people talk about how hard it is to control one's tongue. But I think it's even more difficult to control one's thoughts. Since the tongue speaks what you think, controlling your thoughts will effectively control your tongue.

Thought control allows you to overcome obstacles instead of obstacles overcoming you. Some people stop when they're faced with an obstacle. If you have control over your thoughts, you can continue to move forward and figure out a way to deal with the obstacle -- or go around it.

One area where many people struggle with thought control is in determining what to do with their lives. They don't know where to focus their thoughts, so their thoughts tend to wander. This is normal. But it needs to be limited. Even in determining direction, you need to help your thoughts focus on specific areas of skill. Ask yourself the right questions, or find someone who can help you do that. Once you get your mind on the right track, everything else in your life will fall into place. It doesn't guarantee success, but success is very elusive without it.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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