(Taken from Day 2 of Week 1 of Happy School Advanced, a free 12-week study of the book, Happy School; Where Women Learn the Secrets to Overcome Discouragement and Worry).

This morning I woke up at 5:30 AM. As I was walking down the hall toward the kitchen to make coffee, I heard the negative Parade start its March: I don’t feel very well this morning. Something I wanted to happen yesterday didn’t happen. There’s a big area in my life that’s disappointing and it’s too late to fix it. This all happened in my mind before I reached the kitchen!

But I’ve been training my mind to listen to the Parade that Marches across My Mind, i.e., my self-talk, for several years. I know negative thoughts cause negative emotions and that I have to Change Rooms in My Brain (think different thoughts). An easy Room to Move into is the Gratitude Room and therefore, I begin to list things in my life I’m grateful for.

Although I’m only half awake, I challenge the Parade and begin: I’m glad I can see. Blindness would be difficult. I’m glad I can walk. It would be inconvenient not to walk. (Now I’m pouring water into the coffee machine.) I’m grateful for the caregivers that assist me with my 91-year-old disabled mother.

Force yourself to list items you’re thankful for until you can feel your mood change. You master your moods by mastering your thoughts. I will never wake up tap dancing or, like Cinderella, singing with the birds. I’m afraid I may have to fight a portion of negativity many mornings for the rest of my life. But since I have the tools, it takes mere minutes until I can get myself in a different emotional zone.

My coffee is now ready and it’s time for my morning Bible study. Currently, I’m reading through Matthew Henry’s commentary on the New Testament (written in the early 1700’s). You choose what you put in your mind and you choose what you let hang around in your mind. You have an amazing amount of control over what you think about.

Remember, new habits take much time and practice so be patient with yourself. You have the opportunity to make much headway during the next 12 weeks of Happy School Advanced.

Happy School Advanced is sent directly to your inbox each Monday. The next lesson, Lesson 3, comes out Monday, September 21. Catch up on Lessons 1 & 2 under the tab, Happy School Advanced.

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