“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
This is one of the most powerful, emotionally healing verses in the Bible. One of the cornerstones to success on The Daniel Plan is to reign over your moment-by-moment thoughts, so that with God’s help you can stay in control of your behavior.
Neuroscience teaches us that every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good or bad. Thoughts exert a powerful influence over your life and body. Whenever you have a happy, hopeful, or optimistic thought, your brain releases chemicals that raise your spirits and encourage you to feel good. Positive thoughts exert a physical response and have the power to immediately relax and soothe your body. They tend to warm your hands, relax your muscles, calm and soothe your breathing, and help your heart beat in a healthier rhythm.
Try this exercise now: Take a minute, close your eyes, and think of the last time you felt truly loved. When most people do this exercise, they feel a deep sense of happiness and physical relaxation.
The opposite is also true. When you have an angry, anxious, hopeless, or helpless thought, your brain releases chemicals that stress your body and disrupt how you feel both physically and emotionally.
Take a minute, close your eyes, and think of the last time you felt really angry. How did that make you feel? Most people feel tense, their breathing becomes shallower, their hands become colder, and they feel angry and unhappy.
Now go back to the first exercise before you continue reading!
Thoughts are automatic. They just happen. They are based on complex chemical reactions and information from the past. And what most people don’t know is that thoughts are sneaky and they lie. They lie a lot. It is often these uninvestigated thoughts that provide the emotional fuel for anger, anxiety, depression, and unhealthy behaviors such as overeating.
Plus, if you never question your erroneous, negative thoughts, you believe them 100 percent and then you act as if the lies in your head are true.
For example, if you think your husband never listens to you, even though he has on many occasions, you act as if he doesn’t, and you feel justified in yelling at him.
If you think you are a failure, even though you have had many successes, you are more likely to give up easily.
Over the last forty years, mental health practitioners have developed cognitive behavioral therapy to help people rein in and control their erroneous thought patterns. When you correct negative thought patterns, it is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, depression, relationship problems, and even overeating.
Researchers from Sweden found that people who were trained to talk back to their negative thoughts lost seventeen pounds in ten weeks and continued to lose weight over eighteen months, proving this technique works long term.
To get and stay healthy, start by noticing your thoughts and questioning them. Whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, ask yourself if they are really true. It is often the little lies we tell ourselves that keep us fat, depressed, and feeble-minded. Being overweight or unhappy is as much a “thinking disorder” as it is an eating or mood disorder.
Think on God’s Character
God is all-powerful: “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).
God is love: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).
God is all-knowing: “Before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:4–6).
God is merciful: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1–2).
God is faithful: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23).