Mind Your Mind
by C.A. Phillips
Sometimes I just can’t help myself. I know I shouldn’t do it. It’s one of the most daring and destructive activities I can engage in. But, I just can’t help myself. I read my Twitter feed while I am watching sports on TV.
Yeah, I know. You probably have done this too. It can be mindlessly entertaining to see the reactions other fans – and even the athletes themselves – offer during a live sporting event. It starts with a member of the sports media, or a celebrity or athlete (someone with lots of followers) making a remark, and it’s like dropping a piece of meat into a pack of hyenas – the melee ensues. Every Tom, Dick, and Jane begin to weigh in with their own take – whether a witty retort, a biting comeback, or obligatory GIF to put their stamp on it. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour clicking and scrolling through hundreds of posts, tweets, and retweets. Talk about a Bermuda Triangle!
A couple months ago I shared how social media can lead to disillusionment and, in extreme cases, depression, as we continually compare our lives with others’. As much as I truly believe that the culture of comparison fuels our feelings of personal inadequacy, I fear this is just a symptom of a much deeper and problematic issue. In the end, our outlook begins and ends with our thoughts. What you put into your mind sticks, and whether you realize it or not, shapes your beliefs, attitudes, and actions.
If you binge five seasons of The Sopranos, what do you think will shape your mind for the days or weeks that follow? If you listen to music that glorifies sex, drug abuse, or any number of harmful activities, you’ll become desensitized to it…and perhaps even embrace it. If you read publications that survive on the gossip surrounding the misfortunes of others, you’ll likely begin to cast judgment on them and feel “better” about yourself. And, you won’t even realize it’s happening. And, like interest on a loan, the more you expose your mind to it, it compounds and can be difficult to harness once you feel its effects.
I have noticed myself becoming cynical, agitated, or just downright ornery after spending too much time on Twitter. I do thoroughly enjoy reading some of the amusing posts. But, for every lighthearted comment there’s another hateful one. So, I find myself laughing, then getting angry. You can feel the full range of emotions in two minutes if you scroll through your Twitter feed! I don’t believe that’s the definition of a healthy mind.
Instead, the Apostle Paul gave us a benchmark for developing a sound mind that we’d be wise to adopt:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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 (NLT)
Now, that’s raising the bar, and it’s a filter through which we all should sift our thoughts. I actually have this scripture written on a note card in my office, and it’s posted above the very computer monitor I am viewing right now as I type this. I taped it up there a couple months ago because I need this reminder daily. My mind can easily become poisoned if I am putting the wrong things in it. But, not only do I need the reminder that I don’t want to saturate my mind with negativity; I need to remember to set my mind on things above – good things. God things.
Do you need to take a break from social media? Do you need to stop following certain people on Twitter? Only you can answer that. But, whatever you decide, know that your thoughts – more than anything else, shape your outlook on your life and your future each and every day.
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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