Thinking Positively

It isn’t easy to think positively. Sometimes life just isn’t positive. I don’t know when I formed the habit, and I don’t think it is something that comes easily, but I do think thinking positively is a habit worth cultivating.

Wait a minute, maybe I do know. When I was in my twenties, I talked to my pastor about depression because I thought there should be a way to talk oneself out of it. He said he thought depression came from looking at the big picture. When things are overwhelming, he said, you need to break things into pieces.

I was young, you know, and I didn’t get it. Knowing that I was the mother of toddlers, he said, “Does looking at your kitchen ever get you down?”

Like I had time to get to the kitchen most days! My kids are fifteen months apart. I nodded.

My pastor said, “When that happens, you have to attack the problem a little at a time. First stack all the dirty dishes. Then pat yourself on the back. Play with the kids or have a cup of coffee. When you’ve rewarded yourself, then go back and wash the glasses. After you do that, take another break.”

I could see what he was saying. If I saw progress, maybe the whole job wouldn’t overwhelm me.

I took my pastor’s advice to heart and applied it to other situations in my life. Instead of looking at what I could not get accomplished, I tried to get what I could. I don’t always think of this strategy first, mind you, but when I find myself getting overwhelmed, depressed or downright nasty, I try to analyze the situation so that I can react positively. This doesn’t always make my problems go away quickly. Sometimes it doesn’t make them go away at all. But it does give me a way to deal with them, and I have found comfort over the years in knowing that I could find the positive in a situation. Now I try to look for it.

In Phillipians 4:8, Paul gives his readers much the same instructions as Pastor Baese gave me.  Here’s what Paul said:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Paul goes on to say in verse eleven that he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  The guy was shipwrecked, imprisoned, and disappointed by his fellow man.  If he could find something positive in his circumstances, we ought to be able to.

It’s certainly something to strive for. 





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