I love Chinese food because of the fortune cookies.

Have you ever eaten Chinese food without receiving a fortune cookie at the end? It feels incomplete and deceptive.

I sometimes wonder if I eat Chinese food more quickly than any other meal, as I excitedly consider what this cookie will tell me about my future.

Here are some common fortune cookie sayings, direct from the website kcfortunecookiefactory.com/fortunes:

  • A friend asks only for your time not your money.
  • A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.
  • A friend will soon bring you a gift.
  • A good beginning is only half done.
  • A good example is the best sermon.
  • A good time to start something new.
  • A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.

The reason we love fortune cookies is because of the messages. The cookies themselves are often an afterthought, something we chew begrudgingly and quickly, so that we can share our fortune with our friends and family.

But then I had a thought: What if the fortunes in these cookies were more closely aligned with the thoughts we experience on a daily basis? Our fortunes would sound more like this:

  • A friend will most certainly let you down today
  • It’s pointless to start something, because you’ll just end up failing
  • People are looking at you right now as you read this. You must have something in your teeth
  • What if something terrible happens to you today!
  • What if you left the iron on?
  • This is a really bad time to start something new. It’s always a bad time to start something new
  • The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step, but then you still have 1000 miles left

The fact is, our minds act as fortune-tellers. And unfortunately, most of the “fortunes” our minds foretell are negative. This of course is not a novel idea. We’ve been struggling with our negative thoughts and feelings for centuries.

But here is perhaps a novel idea. Instead of fighting with our negative thoughts, instead of trying so hard to shut our minds up, what if instead we gave our minds permission to produce both positive and negative thoughts?

And why would we do that?

Whereas we don’t seem to have a great deal of control over what thoughts our minds produce, we do have complete control over how we respond to these thoughts. We can choose to follow our thoughts when they are helpful, and we can choose to simply notice our thoughts when they are unhelpful. When our minds tell us “you will do well on that task,” we can thank our mind and continue with the task. When our mind tells us “you will do poorly on that task,” we can even thank our mind for that thought, AND still continue the task!

Our thoughts no longer need to govern our actions.

So here’s hoping that your mind gives you wonderful fortunes today. And even if it doesn’t, just choose to do something meaningful and valuable today, no matter what your mind says.

Hopeful Hint: You have control over how you respond to the thoughts you experience (now doesn’t that sound like a great message for a fortune cookie!?)