Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How to Stay Positive in a Negative World

Gas prices. Traffic. Gaining a few pounds. Having a fight with your significant other. Stress from the job. Not having a date on Saturday night. Getting older. The list of things that can steal our joy goes on and on, can't it? Are you feeling joyful today? If not, here are some tips for staying positive when the world around you is negative. 

1. Smell the Roses
As I was taking my daily walk in the bright sunshine of early Spring, I decided to have a seat in a rocking chair for sale at the local Wegman's grocery store. The calming motion of the rocker was so enjoyable.  The sun shone brightly on me and I was at peace with the world.

"Ah, it doesn't get any better than this," I thought. As I watched the shoppers come and go, I almost felt a tinge of guilt taking time out to just slow down and relax.  After a few minutes of rocking, I resumed my walk, but with a noticeable pep in my step. Like the spring buds, joy had sprung forth in those few minutes. Sometimes all we have to do is slow down, get outside, and get quiet to let go of the cares of the day. The world will keep running on it's rat wheel but we don't have to run with it.

2. Stop Complaining
Many people like to complain. They complain about the weather, their spouse, the health care system, their aches and pains, ya da ya da ya da. We can always find something to complain about but what's the point? Complaining only gives life to that which annoys us and makes us relive it one more time. It's easy to fall into this pattern when we hang around with complainers.

Now, I am not saying deny reality. We do have to deal with situations that are unpleasant, that is for sure. But, do we have to dwell on them? It's bad enough we have to live them one time, but to talk about it again and again only makes us more miserable. Instead of complaining, why not do something about the situation if you can? If you can't do something to change the situation or if it is something that happened yesterday, last week, or ten years ago, let it go. Stop reliving it. When we rehash negative situations, we steal the joy from the present moment.

3. Put Things in Perspective
A phrase from Al-Anon that I find helpful is to ask myself the question,"How important is it?" Most of the stuff that annoys us on a daily basis is pretty trivial in the big scheme of things, isn't it? It helps to put difficult situations into perspective. As I say in my book, "The Power of Faith", there is always another way to view the negative circumstances of life. I choose to look at them as stepping stones to my growth and to my destiny.

As I said to my youngest son the other day, life will always have positives and negatives. It's up to us which we will focus on. We can choose to focus on the good things that happen to us during the course of the day or the bad things. It is a choice we all have to make, whether we realize it or not. What we focus on determines the level of joy in our lives and the level of joy affects our energy level. Negative thoughts suck our energy.

4. Do Something Fun
As a single parent and the oldest child of an alcoholic, I have always been very responsible. You might say - too responsible. I have felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders most of my life. I'm realizing once again that the weight of the world can only rest on God's shoulders; mine are far too weak to bear so much. It is important to have a healthy balance between responsibility and fun. 

I like to dance. Years ago, someone once told me it is a joy to watch me dance. I thought that was such a nice complement. Dancing not only brings me joy but it brings other people joy as well. It's a win-win scenario.  When the beat of the music is so exhilarating I can't help but laugh. What do you like to do that brings you joy? When was the last time you did it?

So, if you've been feeling down and out,  try listening to yourself and see what you're focusing on. Are you dwelling on the negatives or the positives in your life? When was the last time you did something fun?

As for me, I like to remember the verse from the letter to the Philippians that encourages me to think on things that are pure, noble, and of good report. The Apostle Paul was whipped, beaten, scourged, imprisoned, and thrown overboard. Talk about a tough life. Yet Paul learned the secret to maintaining joy. In fact, he exhorts us multiple times to rejoice! When we lose our joy, we lose our strength.

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Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!