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Thinking Too Much?

He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:20

Have you ever noticed how unhappy people think too much? You could make a case, I suppose, that they are not thinking enough and so they do stupid things and this leads to them being unhappy. But I am thinking about smart, lots-going-for-them people who over-think and are unhappy. What could be happening here?

  • Too much time on their hands is my first guess: “He seldom reflects on the days of his life.” When you are unemployed, between careers, or just making more time for yourself there is a tendency to fill your mind space with you, yourself, the big “I” –and it is not healthy. “Lose your life and you find it.”
  • Too much focus on themselves: the thinking goes, ‘I have been so busy at work these past few years that now I need time for myself.’ Killing yourself at work for 14 hours a day will, of course, wear you down, and scaling back to normal, whatever that is, can help restore sanity. But unstructured sabbaticals, which can often become meandering pamper trails, do not necessarily lead to “gladness of heart.”
  • The spiral effect: I don’t know too many people who get up in the morning and say, ‘I want to hang out with some unhappy people!’ So, happy people generally avoid unhappy people. The nicely-mature-spiritual happy people will “visit” unhappy people for a while, but it is generally not the chosen activity for the day. So the consistently miserable find the other miserable folks, and they take some comfort in each other’s misery. When one of them breaks out of the spiral… guess what? They leave the Unhappy Club. The unhappy left-behinds are then unhappy with them and they drift apart.

Solomon was no dummy, and he was the one who made the observation. The reality is that sitting around thinking about what could make you happy is not the road to happiness. I believe a key phrase to being happy is this: “God keeps him occupied.” 

So what are we to do? The backplane in your mind should not have the graffiti “How can I be happy?” sprayed on it. The backdrop of our thinking should be more along the lines of “How can I be busy serving God and blessing others today? And how can I take pleasure in the small joys, such as crossing something off my To-Do list, or feeling the sunshine on my face, or tidying my desk, or holding the chubby hand of a child?” Whatever you do, don’t think too much.

He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:20

Reflections

  • Who keeps you occupied: your job, yourself, or your God?
  • Have you found your time, your space, your job, your apartment, your soul-mate… but lost your joy?
  • Are you spending too much time thinking and not enough time doing?
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