"When you focus on what you don't have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened...You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is "fixed." (101)
Recent research highlights how thoughts impact, not only our brains, but every dimension of our lives. Happy, hopeful thoughts tend to calm the brain. Negative, anxious thoughts can inflame certain areas of the brain that trigger depression. Our thought life really matters.
Dr. David Amen identifies ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) that can ruin our lives, distorting information coming in. ANTs make us feel bad, react poorly to others and cause us to believe in mistaken assumptions. He encourages people to not believe every thought that enters our minds, but to evaluate thoughts to see if they're helpful or hurtful.
If we don't "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5) we will be tempted to focus on the negatives rather than the many reasons to be thankful and to generously love and care for others.
Dr. Amen encourages people to activate an "internal ANTeater to hunt down and devour the negative thoughts" that ruin life and spoil relationships. When we catch a negative thought, we can "talk to it" and replace it with constructive thoughts that build and enhance life.
"Practicing the discipline of thanksgiving"...dmc