Have you ever wondered whether you really exist or whether anything exists? It’s a question that I have asked myself numerous times, especially when I was a youngster. I discovered later in life that this is also a question asked by many. It was this very question that French Philosopher, Rene Descartes, was attempting to answer when he wrote, “I think, therefore I am.”
A dead person does not think, neither can a non-existent person think. The implication for one who considers himself alive but does not subject his mind to the rigor of thinking is evident – he barely exists! When you think about this subject carefully, it is not difficult to conclude that it is thinking that makes us whom we are, that determines our personality, that renders us useful and that makes others want to share our company.
Buddha is credited with the idea that we become what we think, but 500 years before the founder of Buddhism King Solomon wrote, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” (Prov. 23:7). While I am not going to become Luciano Pavarotti by thinking about him constantly, if I listen to classical music for several hours each week and read about it inordinately, classical music will most likely become a part of my psyche and will probably be the genre of music that I prefer to listen to. In the same way, if I allow my mind to dwell on sensuality, my mind most likely will have a sensuality bent, determining the stimuli to which I most readily respond.
What we think about the most is what we are the most. This means that we can determine what our attitudes and our outlook on life are. The Apostle Paul encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. The real point he is making is that if we want to be true, noble, pure, lovely and admirable, we need to make such a state of affairs a reality by concentrating on these virtues.
If we want to be happy, we have to think positively, optimistically and happily. Happiness is not derived from things – a big house, a lovely car, lots of money in the bank. Happiness comes from how we think about ourselves and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Some of the unhappiest people in the world are rich and privileged, while some of the happiest are among the poorest, because they are content with their situation and make the best of their circumstances.
The best things in life are still free. We can be happy if we think happy and focus our thoughts on positive things and situations. We can turn the direst situation around and receive a blessing from it, if we think positively about it. If we see each failure as a lesson in what we should not do in the future, as opposed to a catastrophe that casts a shadow on our path, we are most likely to have a pleasant and happy perspective on life.
“…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.” (Phil 4:8).