6000 Thoughts A Day: What to Do with Them All?

A phrenological mapping[1] of the brain by Friedrich Eduard Bilz. Phrenology was among the first attempts to correlate mental functions with specific parts of the brain. (wikipedia.org/public domain)

Did you know that the average human has around 6,000 thoughts per day? A recent study used brain imaging scans to track when new ideas appear; the study distinguished a ‘thought’ by identifying detectable patterns of brain activity. They found a median rate of about 6.5 thought transitions per minute, concluding that the average young adult would have more than 6,000 thoughts throughout the day. While there is little importance in accurately calculating our thoughts, this study awakens us to the reality that we think a lot; thoughts are an integral part of our daily mental processes and contribute to our overall cognitive experiences.

Each thought is powerful, impacting our perception, conscience, emotional state, actions, and, most significantly, our soul. How often do you pause and reflect without judgment on a few of your thousands of daily thoughts? Going deeper, how often do you invite God into the conversation? Not all the thoughts we tell ourselves are true. Therefore, we need guidance from God to navigate through our 6,000 daily thoughts successfully. He is the source of all truth; only He can reveal what is real, guiding us to align our thoughts and develop a well-informed, healthy mind.

God made us for relational thinking; we were not created to think alone in our heads but to think together with God. In the beginning, we were in a perfect relationship with our Creator, and He created humanity eternally to be in union with Him. However, due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the first human beings, they lost this state of original justice and harmony. This event, known as the Fall, introduced original sin into human nature. Original sin affected the relationship between Man and God, causing separation and a disordered state of existence. The Fall had various consequences, including  a deprivation of God’s immediate presence in the human mind.

Sin ruptured the relationship between God and Man, so after the Fall, Adam and Eve “hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8). It is important to note Adam and Eve not only hid their physical bodies; they also hid their minds. The original harmony and communion with God became lost- For the first time, in their thoughts, Adam and Eve experienced a sense of separation, alienation, and a weakened ability to resist temptation. The Fall created a need for redemption, for Man to be reconciled with God. Through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, a restored union with God is available to each person. Individuals can be put on the mind of Christ and invite the Holy Spirit into our thinking.

While we are saved through God’s grace, human beings still have an ongoing struggle with sin. The wounds of our human nature inherited from the Fall can be heard in untrue thoughts that are intrusive or negative. Again, not everything we tell ourselves is true; doubtful and despairing ideas can seep into our intellect. We depend on Christ, the “way and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) to navigate what is true and untrue in our thinking because we ultimately have two options when approaching our thoughts: receiving or rejecting them. The notion of consent given to a thought relates to the role of the human will, the faculty of the soul that enables individuals to make choices and exercise their freedom. The will plays a vital role in determining how one responds to those thoughts. Ideas, desires, and temptations arise within individuals, often spontaneously or involuntarily. Still, the will can determine the moral value of thoughts and desires and choose whether to receive or reject them.

A helpful exercise is imagining a courtroom in your head, taking one thought you are telling yourself and putting it on trial, with God as the judge, and evaluating if it is a true thought. For example, maybe the thought is, “If everyone knew the things I have done, no one would love me.” Let’s put that thought on trial with God as the judge. Is the statement true? In the eyes of God, your worth and lovability are not determined by your past actions- God’s love for us is unconditional and unfailing. We can trust Him and hope others can be understanding and compassionate about the past. Therefore, that thought is untrue, and it is safe to reject it. Ultimately, this exercise aims to help us slow down and reflect on our thoughts in the eyes of God, aligning our thoughts with God’s truth. By identifying and challenging false or negative thoughts, we can replace them with ideas rooted in God’s love, grace, and wisdom.

Relational thinking with God brings authentic peace of mind because God provides us with the perfect secure attachment style. In virtue and righteousness, He reveals the truth about ourselves and our thoughts- He will never beat you with the truth; instead, He will tell you the truth with love, goodness, and kindness. Beware not to beat yourself up with the truth, a common tactic of the devil. For example, maybe the truth is you made a mistake. Do not beat yourself with that truth calling yourself bad names or thinking negative things. Instead, discern what is true, beneficial, and aligned with His will. This approach allows us to self-reflect with humility, seek God’s guidance and embrace His love and mercy. Instead of being discouraged or overwhelmed by our flaws or negative thoughts, we can approach them as areas where God’s grace can work within us, leading us toward greater holiness and virtue. We are called to trust God, the eternal source of truth, and rely on the teachings of Scripture, the Church, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern and embrace the absolute truth.

Having an open and honest relationship with God regarding our thoughts is crucial. While there may be a tendency to hide our thoughts from Him and try to navigate life independently, without God, we cannot fully discover what is true in our thinking. Human beings are inclined to make sense of the thousands of daily thoughts on their own. However, recognizing our dependence on God and inviting Him into our thought processes provides authentic freedom and healing. He is the ultimate source of truth and wisdom, and by engaging in a relationship with Him, seeking His guidance, and aligning our thoughts with His revealed truths, we have a greater chance of discovering what is genuinely true in this world, an invaluable gift.