When I was a teenager, there was a period of time when my sister and I did nothing but fight. We couldn’t get along, no matter how hard we tried. We just ended up stealing the peace of those around us as well as our own. I received a revelation that I needed to start thinking good thoughts about her. It wasn’t easy because I was quite stuck in a negative thought pattern. I decided that I needed to come up with at least 3 good things about her each day.
Thinking 3 Good Things
This expiriment to think 3 good things about her was so difficult that at first I could only think of physical things that I liked about her: she has nice teeth, she has nice shoes, she has good style. But as I practiced this every day, deliberately thinking at least 3 good things about her, I started to notice the beauty of who she is on the inside: her strength, her wonderful sense of humor, her fierce love for me even though I had been acting unkind towards her. After about 2 weeks of this, our relationship had changed dramatically. We stopped fighting.
This tool of thinking 3 good things has helped me keep my peace during conflict. Whether it’s that I am no longer getting along with a person, I’ve been hurt, or I just plain don’t like someone, I have found that there is always, ALWAYS, something positive that can be said.
This doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to all behavior and just think positive thoughts. It does mean that I have the ability to approach confrontation with love if I am practicing this. Because, let’s face it, I often lose sight of the good in people; their perceived “wrongs” can be all that I see.
I have made the BIG mistake of blinding myself to the good in others by focusing on their mistakes many times in my life. It is a prideful error because it is rooted in judgement, and it breaks relationships instead of restoring them. Yet, thinking good thoughts – even if it’s just 3 – reminds me that friendships and sisterhood and people, as a whole, are worth fighting for.
Thinking Precedes Actions and Attitudes
I forget sometimes that thinking is a powerful tool: it precedes every action, every attitude, consciously or not. It creates my perception of the world and the people who surround me. Thoughts may fly in my head uninvited that are unexpected, unuseful, and unworthy of my time and energy, yet if I meditate on these thoughts, forgetting their power, I give them a home in my life. Once negativity settles in, it is difficult to evict, it will surely produce behavior and attitudes that do not serve me well.
I have battled negative thoughts with clenched fists and the determination to not think a certain way only to find my mind on repeat with the same negativity. This happened with the conflict between me and my sister, it has happened when I feel the need to fix a bad situation with worse behavior, it happens every time I think “just dont think about it.” “Just don’t think” is not the answer. Instead I must deliberately and consciously, replace my thoughts with positive ones.
Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones uses energy. Sometimes negativity makes me apathetic, and I don’t even want out of it. I quite enjoy my bad attitude and pity party, thank you very much. But there usually comes a point when I realize that I don’t have to live that way. I can have peace, and I can have joy – they are very attainable. I must actively train my thoughts on what is good.
The Lesson I Keep Learning
This life lesson that I learned at 18 has been re-taught to me so many times, and I hope that I will continue to hear it over and over in my lifetime because it is so powerful. The practice of it has saved relationships, changed my perspective on difficult situations, and has helped me reduce stress when dealing with difficult people.
Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy, I will think about today.