Pastor Jesse Bradley of Auburn, Washington runs Grace Community Church.
He’s ministered to many, many people struggling with a variety of faith dilemmas and issues in their lives.
In this month of October 2023, as Americans grapple with a variety of issues, he addressed the notion of positive thinking — and shared with Fox News Digital what it would “look like to change your thinking and shift in a new direction.”
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Said Pastor Bradley, “Psychologists report that we have in between 6,000 and 60,000 thoughts a day, based on the person and situation. The National Science Foundation shares that up to 80% of our first thoughts are not helpful, even destructive.”
What happens is that “when life is difficult, we can become flooded with thoughts that are drenched in fear, worry, stress, selfishness, impurity, selfishness and lies. We do not have to believe, harbor or entertain negative first thoughts. We can be proactive by intentionally choosing our second thought.”
It is no accident that the pastor’s new book, his second, is called “The Power of the Second Thought.”
It dives into the power of understanding that the first thoughts we have are not always the best — and that it’s wise to take some time and get to the “second thoughts,” which can yield greater understanding.
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Said Bradley to Fox News Digital in emailed comments this week, “How can we choose a positive attitude and approach during the day? Reject and replace!”
He gave this list of examples:
- Replace “People just slack and gossip at my job” with “I will work with all my strength, even when no one is looking”
- Replace “There’s no hope for my future” with “I am thankful for today and will keep doing the next right thing”
- Replace “My children are annoying” with “My children are a gift from God”
- Replace “I’ll never have good friendships” with “I will pursue and support the people that I respect the most”
- Replace “No one really cares about me” with “God is with me and loves me every day”
Said Bradley, “Johns Hopkins reports that there are links between positive thinking and health. People with a positive outlook are less likely to have a heart attack or cardiovascular event.”
“I didn’t have a roadmap for finding hope or the tools to handle the intensity of my loss and pain.”
Also, “Research from the University of North Carolina points to positive people being more resilient and finding more solutions to problems. A Harvard study shares that optimism reduces the risk of dying prematurely — from overcoming trauma, making the most of your opportunities to overall life satisfaction, positivity makes a difference.”
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The pastor said he wrote his most recent book, “The Power of the Second Thought,” to help people gain habits to strengthen their mental health.
Bradley graduated from Dartmouth College and was playing professional soccer when he became ill — something that took 10 years to fully recover from. He said finding hope during that time was challenging but is how he changes his “hopeless first thoughts.”
“I didn’t have a roadmap for finding hope or the tools to handle the intensity of my loss and pain,” he said.
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He said turning to Jesus for a deeper meaning and learning to not take his “first thoughts” for fact was crucial to his overall mental health.
“The Word of God is living and active, bringing strength, courage, wisdom, and protection,” he said.
“God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, but when we spend time, each day reading His Word and listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd, we are filled with new thoughts that change the trajectory of our lives.”
Bradley also shared his dos and don’ts of positive thinking.
He said it’s not “denial and pretending that there are no challenges,” he said.
“Positive thinking is not flattery and frivolous compliments.”
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Rather, positive thinking is realistic, full of truth and love — and aligned with heaven and scripture.
“Positive thinking is not self-consumption, self-absorption or selfishness. Positive thinking is not creating unrealistic expectations for other people and putting extra stress on them to be perfect.”
Bradley said, “Positive thinking is a vital aspect of loving your neighbor, nourishing your mind, discerning between light and darkness, good and evil and right and wrong.”
“Positive thinking leads to taking action and improving situations. Positive thinking brings out the best in the people around you. Positive thinking rejects excuses, takes responsibility, and overcomes setbacks.”
The pastor went on to explain that Jesus brought more positivity than anyone — which is why it’s important to keep faith aligned with that practice of positive thinking.
“Jesus exudes a trustworthy positivity that is full of meaning, faithfulness, and transformation,” he noted.
“God renews our thinking and vision, empowers us to make intentional choices about our focus and perspective and trains us how to win the battle of our minds,” he added.
Bradley said, “Positive thinking is relational, and there is no greater source of joy in our lives than God.”
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