“The top secret conversations you hold in the privacy of your own mind do not stay confidential forever. These thoughts will eventually be revealed for everyone to see. A dream, a business, or a marriage dies first in the mind.”
Gayle Trotter: I am speaking with Tommy Newberry, New York Times bestselling author of 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life. Tommy, what prompted you to write this book? Did you already have these insights and you needed to share them, or did you feel like life taught you a lesson at some point?
TN: Probably both. 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life is a sequel to another book called The 4:8 Principle which I wrote four years ago. The message of Philippians 4:8 is really the essence of what the 4:8 Principle is. The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to focus on what is lovely, pure, true, gracious; to focus on the good things. The message of the original book was so strong that it just seemed appropriate to do a sequel that emphasized how you can actually practice the 4:8 Principle better. We came up with the idea of a 40 day game plan, breaking the message of the 4:8 Principle down into 40 bite size pieces so that it is easy to implement, but short enough with 40 days, that you can see the finish line from the start line. The concept as a whole, though did grow out of my grandmother sharing this Bible verse, Philippians 4:8, when I was probably 14 years old.
It stuck with me. When I started coaching entrepreneurs, and then couples and families, I found that this one verse that some people are familiar with, but it is not a real prominent verse, is so powerful in human relations and for understanding human emotions. Many people were experiencing less than what God intended for them because they were not able to control their emotions. Here is this little nugget, buried in the fourth chapter of a short book in the New Testament, and it is very, very powerful. It gives us the secret to not only disciplining our mind, but to experiencing joy the way God intended.
GT: You recommend writing notes of congratulations to friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike when they win or accomplish something noteworthy. Why?
TN: We need to encourage others first and foremost. To have a 4:8 mindset where we are focusing on the good in others, we need to acknowledge the strengths, the victories, the wins, and the progress in others. When we see people succeeding in ways that are admirable and ways that we would like to see our own kids succeed and prosper, we should congratulate them. When we do that, I think it helps us on the inside to get rid of any sort of envy or resentment or jealousy that can really eat away at our joy. I have done that with strangers. I read an article in the paper or online about somebody, and I will take just a couple of minutes to try to track down their address and send them a note. We all need encouragement, so now more than ever, people need to be encouraged. “Encourage” simply means to infuse somebody with courage. None of us is strong enough by ourselves to be the best that we can be. You can be an encourager or a discourager. You can be a dream builder or a dream killer. We often express one way or the other with our mouth in the way that we communicate with people, or with a pen or with an email. When you encourage people, you are building up their potential to do great things for God.
TN: There is something that our best decisions and our worse decisions have in common, and that is they all began with a thought. A business is first envisioned in our mind, and if we have the courage to go for it, we will go for it. If somebody discourages us, we may not. The same thing with marriage. The idea of getting married occurs first as a thought, and if we follow up on that thought with our actions, maybe we will get married. Over time, a marriage that deteriorates does not just deteriorate. It does not just break down from the outside. It breaks down on the inside with thoughts that are incompatible with a strong, healthy, loving marriage. We have to be careful if we want to not only maximize our joy, but also maximize our full potential, to understand that we have to guard our hearts. We have to guard what goes into our mind. We have to think the thoughts that are consistent with God’s best plans for our lives.
The pathway to experiencing joy is to line up our thinking with God’s thinking for us. We are never going to be perfect with it, but we do not have to be. The more consistently that we think on what is lovely, pure, true, gracious and just, let us say about our spouse, the stronger our connection with our spouse is going to be. The more we focus on the strengths in our children, the greater the relationship we are going to have with our children, and even better, the more of their full potential we are going to bring out. The same thing is true with a boss and employees, or an entrepreneur and his team. Whatever you focus on, you produce more of, and that all starts with the thought that you choose to think. If you can take control of your thought life, you can take control of your emotional life. If you take control of your emotional life, you end up having a lot more fun and you end up being a much greater example to others, and a much better witness to bring others to God as well.