Do you know those who seem to focus on all that is negative? It’s exhausting to be around them, isn’t it?
Many years ago, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book titled The Power of Positive Thinking. It became an international bestseller. The book puts forth the idea that if you change your thinking it will revolutionize your life.
While adopting a positive attitude is fraught with challenges given the on-going negative media slant in our culture, we are blessed and have much for which to be thankful. Yet, we often see negatives first rather than positives.
Following are possible contributing factors for tending toward negative thought patterns:
If you grew up in a family where focusing on problems, and pointing out the worst in situations and people was the norm, you’ll have to make a conscious effort to change that pattern. Sometimes, a melancholy personality also factors in. Just as we often spout clichés we grew up hearing our parents use, we also gravitate toward viewing people and events in light of patterns established in our upbringing.
It’s part of human nature to want, or even expect, circumstances to inure to our benefit. If things aren’t going the way we’d like, we’re convinced life is unfair and those in our immediate sphere are unsupportive. Self-focus almost always lends a negative perspective because we narrow things down to the immediate and trust others for our happiness instead of looking to God for direction, wisdom, and support.
Comparisons usually involve criticism of others, or self. Often we fall into a pattern of critiquing others because it makes us feel superior. But comparisons and critiques set the tone for negativity, clouding your perspective and spilling onto those around you.
Fear slices through confidence like a sharp sword. The more fearful we are the less likely we are to see positives in life. Fear, and its twin, anxiety, hobble many into a negative mind-set. The presence of fear equals an absence of trust. Don’t allow fear to control you. When fear covers you like a dark cloud, trust God is in control of all that affects your life.
Ways to Build a Positive Attitude
Guard your Tongue
Sometimes we allow what we say to set the tone for what we believe. Voicing negativity about people and circumstances, or making verbally self-deprecating remarks, is a habit that is destructive to your mental health. Instead, make it a habit to look for positive qualities in others and affirm them.
Many want us to believe God is unavailable and disinterested in our struggles. Don’t believe it! God is present, aware, and available. If we allow the present culture to mold our thoughts, negativism becomes a way of life.
Advertising encourages us to obtain more. But if we stop to look at what we already have, we realize how blessed we are. Practice self-control and patience. Don’t get caught up in the quest for more and satisfaction only by immediate gratification.
Change your Focus
Adjust your vision from inward to outward. Look beyond your own issues to the world around you, and become forward-looking rather than dwelling on the past. Satan likes to remind us of failures, but God offers forgiveness and restoration.
Sometimes you simply have to make a decision to have a positive, joyful attitude. Observe and interact with nature. Embrace your own creativity. Thank your creator. If you make praise an attitude of your heart, it is easier to find sources of joy when circumstances challenge. Identifying blessings helps to move beyond negative thoughts or change focus from difficult circumstances.
Often we forget the importance of maintaining a daily connection with God through prayer. Starting the day with prayer has a positive impact on our attitude for the day. We can meet challenges and annoyances in a different way than if we skip time with the Lord.
Jesus modeled and taught servanthood. When you serve, your focus is on others, your perspective is more positive, and you maintain forward motion.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” Proverbs 4:23 GNT
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Philippians 4:8 MSG
If we allow the present culture to mold our thoughts, negativism becomes a way of life.
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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Thanks!! Great reminders – I needed to read this today!! God sent a blessing!
For our family devotion, we read Proverbs 4:23 and our teens listened to your Choosing a Positive Attitude and it was a perfect timing for our teens and our daughter said she wants to read your books. Thank you for your wisdom!
Olga, thank you for reading my blog and commenting. It encourages me to know you included my post in your family devotion. Blessings to you and your family.