If you will come, I would like to invite you to take a little journey with me today, one that could open up all kinds of possibilities in your thinking. When you stop to think about it, one of the greatest gifts we as unique individuals have been given is our marvelous human mind. But what is the mind?
When I did research for this column I discovered a quote by Sir Joshua Reynolds -- British painter and teacher (1723-1792) -- that really hit the nail on the head. He said, “The mind is a barren soil -- a soil which is soon exhausted and will produce no crop … unless it be continually fertilized and enriched with foreign matter.”
As I read this quote, the question that came to me was, what kind of foreign matter does it take to get the greatest amount of good from my mind? It has been said, and rightfully so, that the greatest power we have is the power to choose. Something that each of us should truly understand is that the mind is impartial, it does not care what kind of foreign matter we choose or permit to enter our minds. You, no doubt, have heard the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” While this is a computer term, it works exactly the same way with our mind.
A good example of this happened just this past week when we learned that a young girl in our community, one who had her whole life before her, had hung herself over a boy. To be sure, the foreign matter that entered her mind was not good, or good for her. Now, her family is left to grieve over the loss of one taken way too soon, one that will never live a full life and use the tremendous mental potential and talents that God had given her.
As the years have passed in my own life and I have come to understand more of the tremendous power that is in my mind, I have also come to appreciate the blessing of good music. My favorite kind of music is Gospel, as the words offer hope and encouragement even on a dark and dreary day. A good example is a song by Bill and Gloria Gaither titled, “Joy Comes in the Morning.” Here are the words for the first verse and chorus: “If you’ve knelt beside the rubble of an aching broken heart - when the things you gave your life to fell apart - you’re not the first to be acquainted with sorrow, grief or pain - but the Master promised sunshine after rain.” And now the chorus, “Hold on my child - joy comes in the morning - weeping only lasts for a night - hold on my child - joy comes in the morning - the darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.”
Here is the obvious point I am attempting to get across to you. When we deliberately choose to put good, positive and uplifting thoughts into our mind, our actions and moods follow and we see the hope of living a better and more productive life. When you have hope for a better day and a better life, you certainly don’t think about giving up or, heaven forbid, taking your own life,
Every once in a while I have someone pull up beside me in a car with their radio blaring wide-open, playing a song that has words that make me want to run for cover. The words they are listening to are certainly not words of hope and encouragement but rather words that are on the first block of a dead-end street. This is a free country and we can read the books we choose to read and listen to the music we choose to hear. My only purpose here is to point out the power of the human mind and enable us to make better choices by choosing better fertilizer and better foreign matter.