I’m reading a book on brain physiology by Dr. Daniel G. Amen (Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, 1998) and was a bit surprised to see that Chapter 4 began by quoting Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brethren, whatever is pure, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence or if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

Dr. Amen says, “People who are depressed have one dispiriting thought following another. When they look at the past, they feel regret. When they look at the future, they feel anxiety and pessimism. In the present moment, they’re bound to find something unsatisfactory…

“Most people do not understand how important thoughts are and leave the development of thought patterns to chance. Did you know that every thought you have sends electrical signals throughout your brain?…When your mind is burdened by many negative thoughts, it affects your deep limbic system and causes deep limbic problems (irritability, moodiness, depression, etc.). Teaching yourself to control and direct thoughts in a positive way is one of the most effective ways to feel better” (pp. 56, 57).

I admit that I often fall prey to what Dr. Amen calls “automatic negative thoughts”–the tendency to expect the worst, and worry about all the things that could go wrong. I can find plenty of material for that sort of speculation, and perhaps (once in a LONG while) that kind of thinking helps me to avoid trouble. But Scripture and modern brain science tell me that negative thinking more often causes me to avoid good health.

That’s a high price to pay for circumspection.