Selected Teachings on
How to Control Our Thoughts

Scriptures Study is Essential to Controlling Our Thoughts

Ezra Taft Benson (Quorum of the Twelve)

It is our privilege to store our memories with good and great thoughts and bring them out on the stage of our minds at will. When the Lord faced His three great temptations in the wilderness, He immediately rebutted the devil with appropriate scripture which He had stored in His memory. (Brigham Young University, 1 October 1983)

James E. Faust (First Presidency)

I now turn to mastery of our own private thoughts. In this realm, conscience is the only referee that can blow the whistle when we get out of control. If not bridled, our thoughts can run wild. Our minds are a part of us that really require discipline and control. I believe reading the scriptures is the best washing machine for unclean or uncontrolled thoughts. For those who are eligible and worthy, the sanctity of the holy temple can lift our thoughts above the earthy. ("The Power of Self-Mastery," Ensign, May 2000, p.43)

Marion G. Romney (First Presidency)

There is another reason why we should read the Book of Mormon: By doing so we will fill and refresh our minds with a constant flow of that “water” which Jesus said would be in us “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). We must obtain a continuing supply of this water if we are to resist evil and retain the blessings of being born again.

The great overall struggle in the world today is, as it has always been, for the souls of men. Every soul is personally engaged in the struggle, and he makes his fight with what is in his mind. In the final analysis the battleground is, for each individual, within himself. Inevitably he gravitates toward the subjects of his thoughts. Ages ago the wise man thus succinctly stated this great truth: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).

If we would escape the lusts of the flesh and build for ourselves and our children great and noble characters, we must keep in our minds and in their minds true and righteous principles for our thoughts and their thoughts to dwell upon.

We must not permit our minds to become surfeited with the interests, things, and practices of the world about us. To do so is tantamount to adopting and going along with them, for the experience of the race sustains the conclusion of him who said that—

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, and then embrace.
(Pope, Essay on Man, epistle ii, lines 217, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, London: Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 383).

If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world, we must pursue a course which will daily feed our minds with and call them back to the things of the Spirit. I know of no better way to do this than by daily reading the Book of Mormon. (Ensign, May 1980, 65)

Richard G. Scott (Quorum of the Twelve)

I suggest that you memorize scriptures that touch your heart and fill your soul with understanding. When scriptures are used as the Lord has caused them to be recorded, they have intrinsic power that is not communicated when paraphrased. Sometimes when there is a significant need in my life, I review mentally scriptures that have given me strength. There is great solace, direction, and power that flow from the scriptures, especially the words of the Lord. (Ensign, Nov. 1999, 87)

Worthy Music Can Help Us Control Our Thoughts

Ezra Taft Benson (Quorum of the Twelve)

The mind has been likened to a stage on which only one act at a time can be performed. From one side of the wings the Lord, who loves you, is trying to put on the stage of your mind that which will bless you. From the other side of the wings the devil, who hates you, is trying to put on the stage of your mind that which will curse you.

You are the stage manager--you are the one who decides which thought will occupy the stage. Remember, the Lord wants you to have a fullness of joy like His. The devil wants all men to be miserable like unto himself. You are the one who must decide whose thoughts you will entertain. You are free to choose--but you are not free to alter the consequences of those choices. You will be what you think about--what you consistently allow to occupy the stage of your mind.

Sometimes you may have difficulty driving off the stage of your mind a certain evil thought. To drive it off, Elder Boyd K. Packer suggests that you sing an inspirational song of Zion, or just think on its words. Elder Bruce R. McConkie recommends that, after the opening song, you might preach a sermon to yourself. In fact, he says the finest sermons he has ever preached have been preached to himself.

We should not invite the devil to give us a stage presentation. Usually with our hardly realizing, he slips into our thoughts. Our accountability begins with how we handle the evil thought immediately after it is presented. Like Jesus, we should positively and promptly terminate the temptation. We should not allow the devil to elaborate with all his insidious reasoning. (Brigham Young University, 1 October 1983)

Change Your Habits and Environment

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

Substitute habits, change environment. Change comes by substituting new habits for old. You mold your character and future by thoughts and actions. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.172)