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Think On These Things: The Power of Pure Thoughts

Last Updated: April 11, 2015

by Leigh Seger

Ahhh, January…and those New Year’s resolutions. Statistics published each year show that the inspiration to stay on track dissipates quickly. In fact, only 8% of us are successful in keeping those resolutions.

But too many times the root cause of our many habits and hang-ups is never addressed: our thinking. Even more specifically, the purity of our thinking.

For years, we’ve heard about the power of positive thinking—and with good reason. There is actual science behind this.

Neuroplasticity is the scientific term that explains how thoughts and experiences can change the structure and function of the brain. For example, neuroplasticity plays an integral part for those who have suffered from strokes and other neurological disorders, along with mental illness.

Research has shown that through repetitive physical and mental exercises, other areas of the brain can be trained to take over. The same philosophy is true with the repetitious quality and purity of our thinking.

“Pure-spiration”?

You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. – James Allen (author of As a Man Thinketh)

At the heart of all the “New Year’s goals” lies the desire to simply be a better, purer person this year. Maybe your goal is to be more kind in thought and deed to others. Maybe it’s about being less critical, judgmental, or breaking negative thought patterns about oneself. Maybe it’s about heavier issues like struggling with various forms of addiction.

The Brain That Changes Itself, the acclaimed book by Dr. Norman Doidge, shares the amazing science of brain plasticity and ways to harness its power to make lasting, positive changes.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Doidge shares the story of Michelle Mack, a woman born with literally half a brain. The left hemisphere of Michelle’s brain was missing—the hemisphere that controls speech and thought. Yet to meet Michelle, Doidge shares, the deficiency was not overtly obvious. This patient was able to work a job, vote in elections, and had a great sense of humor. This was possible because Michelle’s right hemisphere took over the job of the left.

While the vast majority of the population will never suffer from a neurological disorder, Michelle’s story illustrates that our brains are equipped to do some pretty heavy lifting. The ability to “re-structure” the mind gives great hope to those who struggle with mental illness, addictions, and other negative or destructive thought patterns.

As positive thinking changes the brain in a physical way, pure thinking can do the same. Taking what we know about the effect of positive thinking and applying that to the power of pure thinking can set the stage for some inspiring change in one’s life.

This way of thinking allows us to actually chart the course of our thoughts by trudging new pathways in our brain. Through repetitiously focusing on the purity of thoughts, the old pathways become less travelled and more difficult to follow.

Dealing with the heavy issues

For individuals dealing with emotional or addictive issues, the science of neuroplatiscity and the power of pure thinking play a huge role. Take pornography addiction for example. Numerous studies and years of research have shown that viewing pornography changes the neuropathways of the brain. These pathways become more ingrained as one continually looks at pornographic content, resulting in a “path of least resistance” in the brain. This then leads to desensitivity to the content and fuels the addiction process.

However, knowing what our brains are capable of is an exciting reassurance in conquering the battlefields of our minds. Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, a leading expert in neuroplasticity, had this to say in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

“When you understand how the brain works somewhat better, you can use that information to literally enhance your own perspective, broaden your own sense of your capacities and, with that awareness, learn to focus on other things knowing that if you focus on other things consistently you can change what’s there. You can change the way that real estate is used.”

With any addiction, the choice to re-wire our brain is never easy and takes hard work. One cannot buy a product to “fix” this—it has to come from within. Thinking purely takes daily focus, determination, and patience.

In his recent article, “This is Your Brain on Porn,” author and licensed counselor Michael John Cusick shares his expertise on how to reboot our brains in a positive, pure direction.

  1. Cusick first instructs on the need to practice intentional thinking. When we shift away from the negative issue or thinking, our brains will start to do the same.
  2. Next, pursue alternate passions. When one is in an addictive holding pattern, tunnel vision sets in and many cannot see past the confines of their addiction. By trying new things, the focus begins to shift away from the addiction and begins to rewire the brain to have more affinity towards the new experiences it is taking in.
  3. Lastly, employ the power of repetition. As shown earlier, repeated behaviors create structural changes in the brain. Just as those behaviors can be negative, resulting in addiction and other disorders, they can also be changed into a positive by repetitious thinking and actions. Cusick notes that as an athelete develops muscle memory, so does repetition lock behaviors in the brain.

Think on These Things

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. – Philippians 4:8

As individuals focus on changing the purity of thinking this year, here are some additional ways to stay inspired and keep the momentum going:

  • Engage in positive self-talk. Positive and encouraging messages to one’s self lead to a greater success in changing the direction of thinking and breaking habits and addictions.
  • Practice daily gratitude. Psychologists show that consistently practicing this helps to reframe the nature of our thinking. On difficult days, take time out to think of the things that you are most thankful for. Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow. Taking a few moments to do this shifts one’s ‘state’ to a better place.
  • Be an example to others. The change in your thinking will start to become outwardly evident and may even start a change in someone else.
  • Be accountable. Have someone help to keep you on track with your thoughts and actions. Practice daily or weekly check-ins to discuss your progress.
  • Pray and meditate. The quiet time spent will help to consistently re-focus and re-affirm your goals.
  • Exercise. Not just good for us physically, exercise helps to clear the mind and relieve stress.

Want to learn more? Be on the lookout for next month’s edition of Pure Minds Online, where we’ll dig deeper in exploring tactics to avoid negative emotions, bad habits, and working through addictive behaviors.

Pure Minds Online | Issue 28 | January 2013 | More in this issue: Secrets and Shame | “My Boyfriend Loves Porn” | 10 Biblical Proverbs About Accountability

  1. joanne

    I fell in love and married when I was 21 to a man who had been married before. i am very spiritual, and after counseling with our Pastor, I believed by faith, we could overcome all things through Jesus Christ. It didn’t sway me he was divorced. Our marriage quickly deteriorated because of emotional outbursts, rages, controlling, jealous behavior. I found porn magazines hidden in his closet. He started spending time out on the lake with a friend who was separated and things continued to decline. I felt guilty for the failure of my marriage, but after many attempts to reconcile, it was obvious nothing was ever going to change. I was a prisoner of that existence. Years later, I married again and we had children. It was like a fairytale, until it wasn’t. I learned fairly quickly, he was into watching porn, role playing, and talking to other women on the internet. He would come home from work and gush about women in his office, but he never had a compliment for me. While he could be thoughtful, his gestures only came when he wanted something. He blindsided me with divorce, and went on to be with an old girlfriend he reconnected with online. The common thread I see in both instances, is pornography was part of their lifestyle, that I wasn’t aware of going into the relationship. It brought a spirit of shame over everything. Now peers look at me, as a woman- married and divorced multiple times and question my morals… I’m not perfect, but I embraced the sanctity of marriage and all that God intends it to be. I do not date, and and now the full-time parent to my two young children. God has a plan and I pray for healing in marriages and relationships, because even though a marriage may end- the family goes on.

    • Kay Bruner

      I am so sorry, Joanne. Your story breaks my heart. I hope you’re finding support for yourself as you process through these multiple losses? Personal counseling is a great place to start. Another excellent resource is Divorce Care, which many churches offer free of charge. Celebrate Recovery is a wonderful resource as well. Blessings, Kay

  2. WIJDAN AAMIR

    thank you very much for your valuable & mind healing post.i am deafinately a changed boy now.

  3. Cody

    I want to purify my mind and my thoughts. I remember my days as a kid, i had pure thoughts, i was pure back then and now after listening to other people, watching TV, spending time on the internet my thoughts have changed so much from the time when i was a kid. I want those thoughts to return to me. I want to live like a pure soul with no sexual thoughts.
    I’ll follow all that you mentioned. I’ll try my best. :)

  4. janet

    I am married for 35 years , if my husband did continue to look at porn instead of spending quality time with me, I would still always love
    him, but I could not live with myself, so I would have to move on and get a divorce!!

  5. Godfrey Koya

    i have a pornographic addiction problem, and just this year i have made resolution not to visit the site. it is through the Word of God alone can change a persons addictive problem.

    • Hi pray you find the freedom you are yearning for!

  6. Julian

    This article was very informative and helpful in knowing how the mind uses the information given to it to adapt and change! It is very helpful to know that the structure of our brain changes based on thoughts and experiences. I do, however, know that it is extremely, and when I say extremely I mean of the utmost importance, when changing your thinking it MUST be done by the Word of God. Period. If you want pure thoughts go to the Word. If you want a renewed mind, go to the Word. If you want freedom from pornography, absolutely go to the Word. So many of the lists of things to do to change thinking goes back to the Word. Confess the Word, read the Word, think on the Word, meditate on the Word, all the time! That is how we will have the pure thoughts we so long for. Romans 12:1-2! To God be the glory that we can have a renewed mind to His precious Holy Written Word

  7. Very good information. Especially helpful is the part about pursuing alternate passions. Thank you.

  8. Joshua Brooks

    This article was helpful for me as I pursue purity in my thoughts and actions (Phil 4:8; Eph 5:3). Our thoughts influence our actions and it’s possible to “reprogram” or minds from dwelling on negative thoughts to positive ones. I looked at pornography when I was a teenager and have looked at some as an adult. However, by constantly focusing on those “commendable” things that Paul tells us to it’s possible to develop a pure mind. That’s the goal – that’s what I’m striving at (Phil 3:14).

    I will post here everyday if necessary in order to stay pure. As a single Christian man (looking to get married), my goal is to prepare myself for a healthy marriage. I’m confident that my future wife doesn’t want a man who fantastizes about sex and watches complete strangers on the Internet having sex. Probably not her idea of a “dream guy.”

    I can’t control other people’s actions, but I’m responsible for my own. I need encouragement on a daily basis, just like everybody else, and the author of this article helped me to focus on what is true, respectful, just, pure, lovely, amd commendable” (Phil 4:8). Thanks for that Leigh Seger. May the Lord continue to empower us men (and women) who stuggle with the issue of Internet pornography! :)

    • Carolyn

      Kudos Joshua Brookes! I’m so glad and encouraged to hear of christian men who are dedicated to purity.

      I’m a married woman, so I can vouch for the fact that a godly girl doesn’t want her guy to look at porn, and in fact a healthy relationship isn’t possible with pornography in the mix. My husband has broken a long relationship with internet-porn with the help of accountability and transparency. Though he occasionally does fall again, he strives for a pure mind and pure actions, with the hope of being completely victorious over that temptation soon. Because pornography is an addiction it’s so much better if you never become addicted in the first place, so I encourage you to stand for purity in your mind and actions now regardless of when you find a wife. You’ll be glad you did :)

      “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” -Matt. 5:8

    • joseph

      i have not seem yet the consequences of the procidures given above but i think when ill follow as the way they instruct ill be pure and more than pure and also preparation of succesful future and let all whom they are providing us with this positive contents to be blessed by GOD…

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