Friday, November 28, 2008

The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry

Newberry, Tommy. The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2007.

Newberry takes the title of his book, and his theme, from Philippians 4:8. The verse is an admonition to think on good things. According to Newberry, our potential for joy in life is greatly influenced by our predominate thoughts.

The book has three major divisions dealing with the development of a joyful life: thinking and self-worth, emotion management, and developing good habits. The first section may be old ground for those who’ve read similar books. It asserts the connection between our typical thoughts and the results in our mind and actions. If we want more joy, we must think on those things that bring joy. To have a healthy expectation of joy, we must have an appropriate self-image. Newberry gears his book toward a Christian audience and defines self-worth as “authentic self-esteem rooted in your uniqueness as a child of God.”

Thoughts and emotions are not independent. They influence each other. Because of this, we can affect reduce negative emotions and increase positive emotions by out thoughts and the way we look at situations. Newberry devotes a chapter to identifying thought habits that magnify negative emotions and strategies for developing new thinking for better emotional responses. He provides a list of Bible verses that one can dwell on to help combat negative reactions.

The final section deals with lifestyle changes that support joy. It is about taking control of your environment, associations and behavior to protect yourself from negativity and concentrate on joy. Not everything is in our control, but the idea is to respond productively to negativity rather than simply reacting by reproducing the negativity in ourselves.

As part of this, the final chapter is devoted to gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful supporter of joy. One of the best habits to develop to increase joy is to consider what you have to be thankful for and express that gratitude.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
-Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)