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Last week I posted on Facebook how happy I am that fall is finally here and got back some fussy comments about how it’s still so hot and it doesn’t feel like fall yet, sadness. Then I looked around at other social media accounts and there was complaining all around. I decided to look at the bright side. It may not be cool and crisp outside, but it is definitely cooler than it has been all sweltering summer and that is something to rejoice about!
I’ve been learning a lot about my attitude lately and how I need to be finding the good in everything. I don’t do that naturally. My nature is to see the glass half empty with more spilling out and will be empty by the end of the day. If you’re as old as me you’ll remember an Erma Bombeck book called, “If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?” I loved that book. She understood me.
But a book I love now is God’s Word! It is SOOO uplifting!! Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” It’s so clear we can’t even mistake those words for anything but a positive attitude.
So I stepped out the front door this morning to 72° temps and rejoiced. Sure it’s still warm, but it wasn’t the 85° I was facing a few weeks ago. That 13° difference is something lovely to think on. And it works in every area. If you’re feeling sick, there is something good about that like how your body is getting rid of germs. If you’ve lost a loved one or suffered a severe setback (like a hurricane or earthquake!) there is still some good to be found in your situation, little lights of hope and peace. You are always loved!!!
The key to seeing the good is not in ignoring the bad, but in where you put your focus. Just because you don’t think all day about the problems in your life doesn’t make them go away, but it does help you find joy and that helps you deal with the problems in a more healthy way. It’s like that pebble that creates small ripples that go on and out farther than the pebble could ever reach on its own.
But since it’s not my natural focus, I am purposeful about doing things that makes that shift in my thinking. Here are 8 things I do to focus on the good and not the difficulty in my life.
- Read the Bible Daily. That has to be number one because it’s the greatest thing I do that gets my focus off of the negative and hard things in my life and reminds me what is really important. There is truth, sometimes a hard truth, in God’s Word that I need to hear. I love my Olive Tree Bible app that has some simple reading plans that I can do each morning. It just takes just 10 minutes to read and they change my focus for the day!
- Leave notes for yourself. I always have a note or two (or five or six) on my bathroom mirror. I keep a stack of index cards with a pen and washi tape in my bathroom drawer to make it easy to add a new note. Every Saturday I put a new verse on the mirror and anything else I want to encourage myself with. Change it up and read them out loud to yourself.
- Be careful who you talk to. We all have those negative people in our lives. They rain on your cheerful attitude and tear down your ideas. Now, be careful that you don’t hear me say not to listen to wise counsel. I’m not talking about truthful people, but toxic people. Someone who doesn’t really want you to succeed because it upsets their own agenda. Look for gossiping, negativity about their own life, small dishonesty, disrespect for their husband, bitterness about old situations. Those are red flags that this is not a person you want to lean on for support. The sad truth is that positive people are hard to find. But they’re out there and when you become one you will attract them to yourself.
- Make time for yourself. I know what you’re saying, “I don’t have any extra time!” Well that’s not really true. You have time, it’s just a matter of how you use it. Take a step back and look at how you spend your time. What are you doing that you hate or that you don’t really have to do? Look at your calendar. Is it eaten up by kids’ sports practice or extracurricular activities? Maybe your family needs to eliminate one of those with the goal of creating a better home life. Are you spending too much time texting friends or checking Facebook? Do you wake up and check your phone and linger there too long? I recommend at least 15 minutes a day of unplugged time just for you. Spend that 15 minutes doing something that makes you feel like you’re moving in the direction you want. Clean out a bathroom drawer or sit and read a book or sweep the front walkway or whatever you can do to make small improvements. It’s those small things that you help you feel accomplished and happy!
- Let the whole family in on it! Tell your husband and kids that you’re trying to make some positive attitude changes. Admit that you’ve been negative and you’re trying to shift focus. Then, when you mess up, take a breathe and apologize and shake it off. Make plans together as a family to do something fun and positive each day. Playing games or taking walks or even just listening to a song you all love and dancing around for a few minutes can shift the mood.
- Listen for the nudge of the Holy Spirit. So often I sense that I am being negative and I ignore it, plunging myself into a deeper well of ugly attitudes. But when I have started my day with prayer and asked God to nudge me when I need to stop, I am better at hearing that voice. If I will be humble and let go of my ideas about what I deserve or want then it’s much easier!
- Create a script. When I hit a bump in the road of my joyful day I don’t have much time to think about how to react. My mood instantly drops and I have a matter of seconds to get a hold of myself sometimes. So I made a little script that I say to myself when I feel that sinking feeling wash over me. It goes something like, “This is not something to lose your joy over. Nothing is actually happening to you (because it’s almost always something small and long-term insignificant) and you can take a breathe and enjoy right now. You can’t change other people, but you can change how you react.” And it helps me a lot! You can make your own script, just be sure it’s rooted in truth of Scripture and not emotions so it really makes a lasting difference.
- Practice, practice, practice. This isn’t something we can change overnight! It takes time to stop our usual responses and learn a new way. Be patient with yourself and stop telling yourself you’re a failure just because you’re not perfect. Every time you are faced with a negative situation or something that challenges your positive attitude (which happens to me like every hour or more!) step back and see it as an opportunity to practice. Each time you do it you’ll get a little better and it will soon become easier to have a healthy, happy attitude no matter what you’re dealing with.
All of these ideas are quick and easy to do! They don’t involve major surgery or expensive remodeling. That’s one thing I love most about this plan. I want to make a lot of changes in my life but so many of them cost money or involve extensive amounts of time. But this plan is quick and free!!! And anyone can do it.
Start with prayer, genuine, humble, childlike prayer and then go from there. I know you can become a positive attitude person! How do I know? Because if I can do it anyone can!
For more ideas about how to make small changes that will alter your life pick up my book, “Tightropes and Teeter-Totters: Finding Balance in the Ups and Downs of Life.”