Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Gregory Dickow's book, The Power to Change Today: Simple Secrets to the Satisfied Life, (FaithWords, 2009).
Feeling dissatisfied? You don’t have to wait a long time for your life to get better. It can improve today if you decide to do something that you can do right away: Change the way you think.
What you think and the way you think will determine the quality of your life. You’re not a victim of circumstances or other people’s choices. No matter what, you have the power to create a fulfilling life for yourself by changing the direction of your thoughts.
Here’s how you can change your life for the better – starting now – and find the satisfaction you crave:
Realize that it all starts in your mind. Your thoughts grow into attitudes; which determine your decisions; which lead to your actions; which establish your habits, character, and ultimately your destiny. So the secret to your satisfaction in life lies within you – in your mind – rather than in any external circumstances you experience. By choosing to change your thoughts you’ll be tapping into the power to fulfill your greatest potential in life. Reject feelings of powerlessness. Admit that you have the power to make your life better, and decide to use that power.
Be loved. Don’t waste any more time or energy worrying about whether or not God loves you. He does! Accept God’s complete, unconditional love for you. When you’re connected to God’s love, you’ll fee whole and enjoy a fulfilling life. Dispel the myth of God as an angry Being who’s eager to punish you for your mistakes and flaws. Recognize that God is actually on your side, wants to love and forgive you. Pour out your thoughts and feelings to God and ask Him to help you feel His love for you in tangible ways. Stop trying to earn God’s love; you already have it. Instead, respond to God’s love by trying to become a better person as a way of thanking God and loving Him back. Every time you see a reflection of yourself in a mirror, remember that God has made you in His image. Ask God to heal you from wounds like past mistreatment, rejection, or abandonment that are preventing you from believing in His love. Break free of the need to earn other people’s approval. Be confident in God’s love for you.
Believe. If you simply believe that you can change your life, your faith then makes it possible for you to do so. Pray for the faith you need to overcome your fears. Stop limiting yourself and remember that all things are possible with God. No matter what challenge you’re facing – a physical illness, a financial crisis, a broken relationship, a career problem – trust God to help you deal with it. Pray for a vision to know how to create a solution that’s greater than what you can see right now. Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what God can do. An active belief system will attract all the good that life can bring you. Unleash the faith God has already placed inside you by: exposing false beliefs (like the idea that you’re defined by your upbringing) and replacing them with biblical truths (such as the truth that your identity is based on the fact that you’re one of God’s beloved children), refusing to be a victim of your circumstances and taking responsibility for finding solutions to your problems, refusing to settle for less than the best for your life, eliminating criticism from your life and becoming an encourager instead, and shifting your focus away from what you don’t have and toward what you do have, believing that God will always meet your needs.
Be expectant. Expect the best – not the worst – to happen in your life when you trust God. Begin each day with optimism, hope, and enthusiasm. When you look forward to something good happening to you, you invite God to bring good into your life. Get rid of doubt and mediocrity that fuel low expectations of yourself. Start dreaming and pursuing your dreams. Create a list of new goals for every part of your life. Pray about them regularly and work hard to achieve them. Remain hopeful while you’re waiting for what you need; keep trusting that God will provide at the right times and in the right ways. Live to please God – not necessarily other people. Follow God’s guidance even when that means not living up to other people’s expectations. Surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you, and avoid those who discourage you. Remember that God is on your side, and expect Him to always act according to what’s best for you.
Be healed. God knows and cares about your suffering in this fallen world – all the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain you go through. Don’t deny, ignore, or cover up your pain. Instead, figure out what lies behind it and how to treat it. Replace your negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones. Thank God for the healing that He has already brought into your life, and let the memory of what God has done so far grow your faith in what He can do now. Instead of concentrating on what’s wrong in your life, focus on what’s right and keep cultivating positive thoughts and surrounding yourself with positive people. Take good care of yourself, such as by eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise and sleep. Make time regularly to have fun. Keep taking whatever steps God leads you take in your healing process, one step at a time.
Be still. Spend time in silence and solitude regularly so you can listen well to what God may be trying to tell you. Make time to rest and reflect. Eliminate unnecessary distractions from your life such as by turning off your cell phone during times when you need to focus on something more important. Ask God to help you turn off worrisome thoughts and let go of your concerns when you’re praying. Simplify your schedule by cutting out activities that aren’t the best choice for you right now. Pray for a soft heart that’s forgiving, compassionate, open, and sensitive to others, since that’s the kind of heart that can best receive what God wants to plant in it. Start each day with peaceful prayer that seeks God’s guidance for the day.
Know yourself. Discover who you really are as a person – from the inside out – instead of letting other people try to define you. Ask God to show you the person He created you to become. Don’t devalue yourself; always keep in mind that you’re valuable because you’re God’s child. Don’t allow other people to damage the image of God placed in you. Don’t judge yourself for failing or making mistakes. Let the knowledge of who you are give you the confidence you need to overcome temptations and challenges. Cultivate values like integrity, honor, humility, loyalty, and love in your life to build a strong character. Tap into the power of the Holy Spirit inside you each day. Be honest about your weaknesses, and rely on God’s strength to overcome them. Base your confidence ultimately in the fact that you enjoy a love relationship with God.
Love yourself. Accept and respect who God made when He created you. Acknowledge the good in you and thank God for it. Pray for God to help you see yourself the way He views you, so you can love yourself through the power of His love. Make your relationship with God your top priority. As you put God first in your life, you’ll start experiencing an overflow of love and respect for yourself and other people. Silence your inner critic by forbidding yourself to say negative words about yourself. Remind yourself that you’re worth so much to God that He sent His Son to die for your sins. Abandon perfectionism; simply do the best you can in life and trust God. Don’t compare yourself to other people; embrace your uniqueness. Surround yourself with friends who will help you appreciate the person God made you to be.
Forgive yourself. Decide to live free of guilt, no longer imprisoned by the past or your sins. Honestly confess and repent of your sins, then accept God’s forgiveness. Realize that making mistakes doesn’t make you a mistake. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Don’t allow other people to lay guilt trips on you; you don’t need other people’s approval when you have God’s approval. Accept the mercy and grace that God offers you. Stop punishing yourself for something for which God has already forgiven you. Believe that God can turn any situation from your past around for the better. Let go of grudges against people who have hurt or wronged you and rely on God’s strength to help you forgive them. Stop talking about old wounds and just let them heal. Verbalize your forgiveness – of yourself and others – often to remind yourself of it. Don’t insensitive comments and actions too personally; what people say and do is usually more of a reflection of themselves than a judgment on you. Celebrate the healing work of forgiveness that God is doing in your life.
Fall out of love with your feelings. Instead of letting your feelings master you, decide to master them. Disarm negative emotions by changing the thoughts behind your emotions from negative to positive. As you think the right thoughts, that will lead to the right feelings, which will then produce the right actions in your life. Pray often for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so that God’s thoughts will become your thoughts. Talk to your negative emotions (like anger, fear, or depression) rather than letting them talk to you. Have confidence in God’s promises, which will calm your emotions as you remind yourself that you can trust God to help you in any situation. Pray for God to send His perfect love into your life to cast out fear and melt away other negative feelings.
Discover the greatness in you. Get out of your comfort zones that are keeping you enslaved to a boring, empty, mediocre life by preventing you from tapping into your greatest potential. Stop going over your past failures and be willing to try again. Move forward, not backward. Dream, and take risks to pursue those dreams. Don’t limit yourself; be willing to try something new. Be open to growing and changing. Identify what you’re most passionate about doing. Then find ways to fuel that passion in active ways that help you contribute to the world around you – from learning to cook or mentoring children, to starting a business or volunteering at a hospital. Discipline yourself to work hard at developing the necessary skills to put your passion into action well. Stay on course despite what cynics have to say. Keep challenging yourself to improve and serve God and others with excellence.
Plant a seed. Any attitude or action you put your energy into returns to you like a seed you plant as investment in your future. The quality of your life depends on the quality of the seeds you plant and how you help them grow. So choose your “harvest” (the kind of life you really want) and make decisions designed to lead to that kind of life. If you want your children to grow up to be close to God, share your faith with them in purposeful ways. If you want a promotion at work, plant seeds of diligence and excellence on the job. Watch out what you allow to come into the field of your heart so you don’t choke your good seeds on weeds of sin. Replace mentalities of failure with mentalities of success. Then rest and trust God to make the seeds you plant grow at the right time.
Find your calling in your conquering. Each struggle you go through is an opportunity to learn and grow. Each bad experience you conquer can help you fulfill more of God’s good purposes for your life. So acknowledge your struggles, get to the root of the pain, and pull out the knife to open a wound from which new life can flow. As you step out in faith to overcome little things, God will gradually entrust you with bigger tasks and strengthen you along the way.
Be on the giving side. Choose to be a giver rather than a taker. Ask God to help you see people as He sees them. Realize that since you’ve been blessed, you can be a blessing to others. Instead of being a consumer (concerned about what you can get out of life), be a contributor (concerned with what you can give to the world while you’re here). Pray for the ability to overcome fear and selfishness. Remember Jesus’ promise that the more you give in life, the more you’ll receive. Cultivate giving as a lifelong habit, and watch your satisfaction keep expanding.
Don’t be afraid of the dark. Whenever you experience times of uncertainty in which you don’t know what to do, look for God’s light to guide you step by step. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting that God is really with you as He has promised – even though you can’t see Him right now. Anchor yourself in God’s love. Reach out to other hurting people. As you help meet their needs, you’ll get your focus off your own struggles. Instead of talking about your problem, talk to it, commanding it to leave. Recognize that you may be experiencing attacks from evil. Worship God more deeply to drive evil away.
Live in the moment. Take each day as it comes, doing your best to be completely present and undistracted, enjoying and appreciating what’s happening in your life right here and now. Don’t agonize over the past or worry about the future. Maximize your opportunities each day by living purposefully. Be grateful for what you have and celebrate God’s ongoing work in your life.
Leave your country. Decide to leave the land of all that’s comfortable to you to set out on a journey with new adventures. Remember that you can’t put new actions into old attitudes. Be relentless about changing your thinking patterns from negative to positive. Take every thought that comes into your mind captive and change it to reflect biblical truth. Then watch your life take off in a new direction that will lead to more satisfaction than you’d ever before thought possible!
Adapted from The Power to Change Today: Simple Secrets to the Satisfied Life, copyright 2009 by Gregory Dickow. Published by FaithWords, Nashville, Tn., www.faithwords.com.
Gregory Dickow is the founder of the Chicago-based Life Changers International Church. He is the popular host of Changing Your Life, an international television ministry, as well as the highly rated Ask the Pastor radio program heard during the afternoon drive-time in a number of cities across the United States.