Let me start by saying that yes, even I, miss happy-go-lucky, ever sprinkling cheer and promoting positive thinking whenever and wherever I can, must work hard at keeping my mind in a good space. My life is not perfect and I am often met with challenges that could easily break my spirit, but I decided a long time ago that since I can’t always control external factors in my life, I can choose how to perceive and react to things around me. I can choose love rather than hate, forgiveness rather than animosity, peace rather than chaos, joy rather than sorrow, faith rather than fear, thankfulness rather than ungratefulness, and so on.
Making this choice is the initial step, but there are things I have learned to do (and I am still learning to do consistently) to maintain my spiritual equilibrium. In other words, I have moments that I’m not so proud of, but for the most part, these are a few things that have gotten me through.
Pray, pray and then, pray some more…
Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)
From blessing my food and seeking direction to laying on the floor, crying and pouring my heart out – I always feel better after I’ve prayed. I know that my heart has been heard and I am in a better frame of mind to face difficult situations. Praying calms me down and helps me to see the bigger picture more objectively from a spiritual perspective. Praying is like taking a deep breath and counting to 10.
Focus on positive things…
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
Call it human nature, but it seems as though it’s just easier for people to dwell on the negative things that happen in life. One of the first lessons I learned as a sales person in my earlier years, and studies have shown, that if a person has a bad experience with a product, or service, they are 10 times more likely to call someone and complain than when they’ve had a generally good experience.
It may take a little more effort, but focusing on positive rather than negative things helps us move from seeing ourselves as victims to seeing ourselves as victorious. This is not to negate the fact that we may have had a bad experience, but rather an opportunity to look for the positive in every situation. From time to time we should take a moment and write down things that we are grateful for. In more challenging times, we can pull out our notes and reminisce.
Forgive others and forgive ourselves…
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not yet achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, Philippians 3:13 ( NLT)
I know you’ve heard this before, but nothing can keep us trapped in hurt like unforgiveness. Nothing can stagnate us like guilt. Many of us have regrets, but we can do nothing about what has already transpired aside from embracing the lessons we’ve learned and moving forward with maturity and wisdom.
There are far to many victories ahead for each of us, but none of us can travel in two directions at one time. Either we can remain stuck in the past or we can move forward and see what wonderful blessings lie ahead.
Be a blessing to someone else…
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 (KJV)
Times when we are feeling our worst are the perfect times to remember and encourage someone else. We can send a card to a friend, call someone we love and tell them that we care, take a girlfriend to lunch or even volunteer somewhere where we can be a blessing to someone we may not know. There is a unique satisfaction that comes from giving. It just feels good to give and believe it or not giving can be a great way to encourage ourselves.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)
There is not much I can say here. Laughter is good for us. We can’t always be so serious. We should laugh with our friends, laugh with our children, laugh with our parents, laugh with our brothers and sisters and so on. Laughter is a gift from God, it is contagious, and can in and of itself make us feel better.