Well, friends, we are approaching the dawn of a new year. 2014. Can you believe it?
I’d love to share a bit with you on a personal level. I love the new year. Every year. It sounds so fresh and full of hope. It’s a blank slate, a chance to start over, yet again.
So that’s what I do, every year. I do a little cleaning house. . . together a friend and I attempt a 40-day fast from something in our lives. It’s sort of like a tithe of our year – give the first 40 days (a little over 10%) up.
It’s a fun concept, but it is difficult to play out. Forty days is a long time to give something up. It needs to be something reasonable, something extraneous. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t do a 40-day juice fast or anything like that. It needs to be attainable. For several years, it was sweets. One year it was abstaining from wasting time on my iPad/iPhone. 😀 Those things are easier said than done, at least for me.
After thinking for a while, and after a very inspiring and thought-provoking sermon by a wonderful pastor, I’ve decided to abstain from something I consider even more toxic to my health – complaining.
Yeah, yeah, we all know habitual complaining isn’t a good thing. . . But it affects you more than you realize, even down to your brain chemistry!
…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
I first learned about the toxicity of our negative thoughts several years back from a Christian researcher, Dr. Caroline Leaf. Her research is so intriguing to me – and our bodies are so incredibly, amazingly created.
Her premise, which you can read more about here, is based on years of research which finds that we truly are what we think. Dr. Leaf explains that thoughts are real and occupy “mental real estate” – the thoughts we build become the words and actions in our lives. She says in her newest book, Switch on Your Brain (emphasis mine):
Science is finally catching up with the Bible, showing us the proof that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). Breakthrough neuroscientific research is confirming daily what we instinctively knew all along: What you are thinking every moment of every day becomes a physical reality in your brain and body, which affects your optimal mental and physical health.
…Scientifically, this is called epigenetics; spiritually, this is the enactment of Deuteronomy 30:19, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”
She was also elsewhere quoted as saying: “If you are unhappy with your life, don’t complain because this creates neurochemical chaos, and will literally lock you into a “mind swamp!” Indeed!
The great news is, you can actually rewire your brain by changing toxic thoughts. Our bodies are astounding, don’t you think?!
The 40-Day Complaining Fast
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. – Prov. 18:21
A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song. – Prov 15:15
Well. . . suffice it to say, I’ve noticed lately my words could be a little more full of life, if you know what I mean.
I want to do this – I love the idea of rewiring my brain! I love the idea of choosing life, so that I and my descendants may live!
So beginning January 1, I’m pledging to fast from complaining, which is one of the most toxic things to the body, for 40 days – and beyond! (You thought that in Buzz Lightyear’s voice, didn’t you. 😉 ) It’s really important for me to let you know I’m not sharing this to boast or so I can earn some sort of cool points. As if those were needed! 😉
Seriously, it’s actually a subject only my husband and my best friend knew about before this post. But the reason I’m sharing it here is first, to document the changes I feel, and second – if I tell everyone, then I am definitely held accountable on a much larger scale.
So if you’re around me or what I write, and you hear complaining, you have my permission to reroute me to more positive talk. 🙂
I share this all for just one more reason: join me? You can let me know if you want, but you don’t have to tell anyone at all, really. Just try it on for size and see the difference. See how your life can be transformed, how a closeness with your Creator can be intensified just by eliminating complaining. You can join the Facebook group for the 40-Day Complaining Fast here – a place to share, encourage, and uplift during these 40 days without complaining.
What happens if you slip up? No worries! Just resolve to keep going. Your God-given free will has actual structural position in the brain: use it to choose life, like the verse instructs us to do.
I know I am going to slip up . . . the point is not to be perfect; that’s impossible and maybe even a bit prideful. The point is to keep working toward your goal until a bad habit is rewired in your brain to a good habit.
So, when you encounter a complaint, whether in thought or in words, stop the complaint and reroute your brain: replace the negative complaint with a thankful thought, a Scripture verse, a praise to God. You can not imagine how good it’s going to feel. And you are actually changing the neurons in your brain. Fascinating.
What happens if you don’t read this until after the new year has begun? Well, come right on in and join us! It’s never too late. 🙂
Here’s to bursting into the new year with a complaining fast and a thankful heart. Thankful hearts spread more love into this hurting world – which needs a great dose of hope and love.
It certainly can’t hurt.
Peace, love, hope, and thankfulness,
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