Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
Sixty thousand. That’s how many thoughts we each have on average per day. These range from “boy this coffee is strong” to “what the @#%!! is wrong with that guy?!” It calculates to approximately one thought every second we are awake. According to Cleveland Clinic Wellness, 95 percent of those thoughts are repeated. This means we each average 3,000 new thoughts and 57,000 redundant thoughts per day. Wow. That’s a lot of brain traffic, nearly all of which is just a rehash of old news.
Consider this against the spiritual wisdom telling us it’s the silence between the notes that makes the music, the space between the bars that holds the tiger. In minds so cluttered with noise, there is very little opportunity for the Spirit to whisper. We seek God. We call out to God. We long for God. But we leave very little room in our minds for God to respond. Even our prayers can become mere brain dumps during which we stream our thoughts toward God, but never create space for God.
Now, here’s where the brain train really careens off the tracks. According to the Cleveland Clinic’s research, 80 percent of our habitual thoughts are negative. If you do the math, this calculates to 45,600 negative thoughts per day. Psychologists call this the negativity bias. If you live with another person, the two of you produce over 630,000 negative thoughts in an average week! Yikes! No wonder so many relationships get in trouble.
Researchers have proven that negative thoughts stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for feelings of depression and anxiety. So it’s not like all these negative thoughts just come and go. They ultimately affect how we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and our world. Conversely, positive thoughts produce hormones throughout the body that give us feelings of peace and calm. Thus there is rock-solid science explaining why deeply spiritual people who practice mindfulness and centering prayer are happy and peaceful. Blessed are the peacemakers indeed!
Might I suggest that anytime is a great time to recognize and refuse the temptation to go negative? Spend some time in prayer for mindful eyes and a centered heart that sees God’s goodness in everyone and everything.
As the lyrics by Rory Cooney go…
Change our hearts this time,
your word says it can be.
Change our minds this time,
your life could make us free.
Journey well and pray always.