This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Do you own your thoughts? Are they mostly positive or negative?
Thinking positive is paramount to living a happy and successful life because our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. That’s the position of Joyce Meyer, who implores us to take ownership of our thoughts—focusing on God and remembering that the devil tries to keep our minds negative.
Keep reading to learn how to keep a positive mindset.
A Positive Life Requires a Positive Mind
Meyer explains that positive thoughts lead to positive words and actions that generate more positivity. Likewise, negative thoughts lead to negative words and actions that create further negativity. Therefore, Meyer argues that the only way to truly take ownership of our lives is to first take ownership of our thoughts. This is the place to start as we learn how to keep a positive mindset.
|The Power of Positive Thinking|
Meyer’s idea that our thoughts have the power to shape our reality is well established in the field of psychology and our culture. Henry Ford’s famous quote, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right,” or versions of it, are commonly cited to remind us that thinking positively is the first step to success.
Researchers believe that our positive or negative thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies because a belief that we’ll fail at something causes us to approach a new challenge timidly, with dampened enthusiasm and marginal effort. If we experience initial setbacks, we may accept defeat quickly and easily.
In contrast, when we believe that we’ll succeed, we can experience setbacks and challenges without becoming discouraged and are more likely to approach new endeavors with enthusiasm and sustained effort. Therefore, first with our thoughts and then with our actions, we create our reality.
A Positive Mind Is Focused on God
For Meyer, a close relationship with God is the driving force behind a positive mind and life. To reap the full benefits of our relationship with God, both our rational mind and our spirit must be attuned to and focused on His wisdom, teachings, and love. She explains that God invites Christians to share His love and wisdom through the power of the Holy Spirit, which provides a link between our own spirit and our mind. Since our rational mind is susceptible to becoming confused and discouraged, the Holy Spirit can help us feel the right thing to do.
With the Holy Spirit as our guide, God’s positivity will inform how we see the world, and we’ll be able to interpret and contextualize His teachings and messages and apply them to our lives.
Additionally, Meyer explains that by heeding the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will not only be able to follow God’s unique path for us, but we will find peace and fulfillment along the way.
(Shortform note: Meyer believes that God has a specific plan for each of our lives, although she doesn’t elaborate on how we know what that plan is.)
|The Holy Trinity |
While Christians believe in one God; He is conceptualized as three noninterchangeable entities, called the Holy Trinity, for practical and spiritual reasons. The concept of the Holy Trinity explains why Meyer references God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in different contexts. For example, Meyer specifically discusses how a partnership with the Holy Spirit can guide us to a positive mind.
For Christians, the nature of God and divinity (and the meaning of life) lies in the relationship between the three parts of the Holy Trinity. God the Father represents the source of all that has been and will be. God the Son (Jesus) is the physical manifestation of God’s love for humanity and His presence in the world. The Holy Spirit is the animating spirit of divine love that flows between beings. Meyer describes a partnership with the Holy Spirit in particular, not because the Holy Spirit and God are two separate entities, but because we can access the divine only in the context of a relationship.
Satan Tries to Keep Our Minds Negative
Satan’s goal is to trap our minds in negative thoughts that prevent us from focusing on God and having a positive life. Meyer explains that Satan knows how powerful we will be if we embrace God’s positivity with our mind and spirit, and so he chooses to attack us where we are most vulnerable—our minds. He targets our mind rather than our spirit because human nature makes us susceptible to wasting mental energy on negative thoughts.
Satan uses our flaws to get us to sabotage our lives. Meyer explains that Satan uses his knowledge of each of our minds to target our weaknesses: our fears, insecurities, vices, desires, and so on. His attacks are subtle and often go unnoticed because he plants negative thoughts in our heads from a young age and encourages us to focus on them more and more over time. The negative thoughts he plants often turn into negative patterns of thinking that impact our words, actions, and lives. Recognizing these patterns is an important first step in defeating Satan on the battleground of our minds.
|Satan as a Biblical Figure|
Meyer chooses to follow a very literal interpretation of the Bible in her conceptualization of Satan. But not all Christians think of Satan as a literal, singular figure. Theological scholars actually urge against a literal interpretation of the Bible, encouraging readers to treat the text “as a symbol for a deeper reality.” Since scripture incorporates elements of several cultures, languages, belief systems, and traditions, astute readers look for the underlying metaphor beneath the word-for-word translation.
The search for meaning beyond scripture’s literal wording applies to how we interpret the figure of Satan. In the Jewish tradition (from which Christian ideas of Satan evolved), Satan was rarely viewed as a literal entity. His first appearance in scripture is in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, where he is cast in the role of the “accuser” or “tempter.” But, he was used symbolically. Instead of being an outside force imposing his evil will against us, Satan served as a manifestation of the duality of human nature and a reminder that we’re all capable of thinking and doing evil things.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Battlefield of the Mind summary :
- How the Devil makes it his mission to corrupt our minds with negative thoughts
- How to recognize the signs that Satan is attacking your mind
- How to thwart Satan’s attacks and find happiness and fulfillment