As many of you know, I am a faith-filled man. As such I generally avoid more secular phrases such as, “I am sending you good thoughts,” when friends or clients are in need and instead ask permission to pray for them.  I believe in the power of prayer because I have seen it work effectively in my own life and in the lives of those I care about.  I consider the idea of “good thoughts” to be a close second to prayer, but honestly, I have always considered it a bit of a cop-out.  In polite society, we don’t want to bring prayer, religion, or God into conversation for fear of offending someone.  I get that, and I try to be sensitive to differing views and open to the possibility that many people don’t share my perspective.

All that being said, there just may be something to the “good thought” approach.  I recently read an article based on some research done by the National Science Foundation in 2005, and found the math in it to be more than troubling.  This research noted that the average person has somewhere around 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. They can be as simple as:  I’ll have another cup of coffee while I read.  Where is Brian going with this article?  That photograph goes nicely with this article.  Will I finish reading this?  How did he know that these are some of my thoughts?  You get the idea.  That’s a lot of thoughts, but that is not the most compelling part of the research.

Researchers found that of those thoughts, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive.  And yes, 80% of the 95% play-loop is negative.  Do the math; it is stunning.  Examples of negative thoughts are:

  • There is no way I can get all this done, there’s just not enough time.
  • If I don’t do it, it won’t get done right.
  • I’m fat.
  • I’m out of shape.
  • I don’t belong.
  • I am broken.
  • I am not good enough.

Fill in your own favorite, self-deprecating thoughts that are stuck in a negative loop.  We are all guilty of this kind of thinking (including me). However I refuse to believe that 80% of my thoughts are negative and hope that your thoughts don’t reach such disturbing levels either.  I would be willing to bet, though, that still too many of mine are, and I am committed to making a change.

The good news is that we are ultimately in charge of (or to blame for) our thoughts.  As soon as a negative one creeps in, you can quickly quash it with a gratitude or a positive thought.  Be aware of the thoughts that rise up, and take charge of them, telling them where to go.  Replace the negative ones with a blessing or something that you can be positive about.  If you are ever stuck and can’t come up with one, call me, and I can give you a handful.

So getting back to my original point, I am beginning to see the value of wishing one another “good thoughts” and no longer see it as a cop-out. I am growing to appreciate their power, so I wish you and yours many, many good thoughts.