A Christian Science perspective: A lesson on taking charge of your thinking. 

One afternoon while shopping, I had gone into mental autopilot – that hazy state of not really thinking or caring about what was going on around me. I was just going through the motions of my day. When I got home, I realized I had been overcharged by a store clerk. I knew if I’d been paying closer attention, I would have watched the transaction and looked over the receipt before leaving the store. It was easy to correct, but it would have saved me time and effort if I’d been more alert. Then I chuckled as I thought about the word “alert.” I remembered the phrase I’d once seen on a large message board: “Be alert. The world needs more lerts!”

It was a silly message, but it got me thinking about what was in my thought. The world did need me to be alert. And it didn’t need just me. The world needs all of us to be watchful and wakeful, because what we think makes a difference. Really.

Being watchful keeps us from drifting into difficulties. A modern interpretation of the Bible cites Jesus as saying, “Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger” (Matthew 26:41, The Message). What a powerful way to live our lives – so conscientiously guarding and uplifting our thoughts in prayer that we are conscious, in a degree, of our oneness with God and are kept safe from unknown dangers.

It makes sense, then, to frequently take a hard look at our thoughts and weigh their worth. If they are anxious, deceitful, self-serving, or mean-spirited thoughts, they bring fear and discord into our lives. Attentively watching and praying helps us have the strength not to indulge these thoughts, which in turn helps us eliminate them. We are able to exercise dominion over our thinking. Unselfish, compassionate, and honest thoughts that help us glimpse the nature of God, who is infinite Mind, transform us. Our human experience changes, and we discover greater peace, happiness, deeper satisfaction, and healing. How freeing to understand and prove that God supplies us with only the highest and purest thoughts. It empowers us to live more harmonious lives and help others.

When we read or hear world news, instead of being overwhelmed by tragic events or mentally “tuning out,” we can use those news stories as a nudge to wake up and pray. Instead of getting upset or discouraged, we can pray that those in need will feel God’s tremendous love, which is ever available to bring comfort and healing to them. They will feel it because as God’s children they actually have and express the abundant, creative intelligence and understanding of God and His love. Our prayers along these lines can help bring to light answers to their problems. This way of viewing world events has “teeth” because it has the authority of genuine spiritual perception. Thought elevated by the understanding of God’s unconditional goodness conquers fear and sensationalism; it redeems and regenerates us, and this divine, uplifting influence reaches those whom we pray for as well.

The suggestion may come at times saying we don’t want to think about anything. We just want to binge on TV or video games and forget everything unpleasant going on in our lives. We should be aware that just emptying our minds of pressing matters isn’t enough. It’s more helpful to fill our thought with the spiritual ideas and qualities that come from the source of all intelligence: God. If we are not actively tending to our thinking, unwanted thoughts such as fear, despair, and temptations may try to fill the void. It’s important to be alert and resist these unwanted thoughts, and we do this by holding thought more consistently to the truth of God and His always present goodness.

This type of alert, disciplined thinking is a blessing to all. It’s an effective kind of prayer. It uplifts, inspires, and refreshes. And it makes a difference, because thought forms experience. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” the founder of this newspaper and discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explains, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.