Positive Thinking can Change Your Life
Negative Nancy woke up one day
But she had nothing nice to say
Her car wouldn’t start so she had to pay
And so began a very bad day
She huffed and she puffed but nothing changed
Except that she made others feel the same
Her furrowed brow and her turned down lips
Made none want to hug her, not even one bit.
Joyful June woke up the same morn
Only to notice her favorite dress torn
She was sad, but she thought “I can get this fixed”
And headed downtown to the seamstress who stitched.
She walked into the shop with a smile on her face
And the seamstress smiled back and asked her to wait
A few hours later, her dress was fixed right
And the seamstress went home having a new friend that night
Your actions have consequences one way or another
You can smile and make friends, or just be a bother
Negative Nancy never had any friends
But that is a terribly sad way to end
Joyful June has friends galore
and always smiles and gathers more.
So tomorrow be careful with the choices you make
Your life can be empty, or it can be great!
Like that? I just made it up =) I have been thinking a lot recently about positivity and it's importance in our lives. What we value is what we think about, what we think about affects our daily attitude, and our daily attitude affects those around us. Do you see where I'm going with this? Negativity in your life affects more people than just yourself. On the flip side, positivity can do the exact same thing! Your attitude can affect your own happiness, your marriage, your friendships, your work life, your parenting, your success. Really, it can affect EVERYTHING in your life! I'd say it's a pretty important thing, so let's talk about it.
Before you assume that I have always had a happy life and it's just my nature to be happy all the time, I want to assure you that I have gone through the ringer myself. Between the ages of 5-25, I had experienced sexual abuse, depression, breakups, extreme OCD, body image issues bordering on anorexia, and divorce after my husband had an affair. WHEW! I had the ability to learn and grow, or to wallow in self-pity. If my mom ever caught me wallowing you know what she told me? “Go do something for other people and stop focusing on yourself.” Yeah, my Mom is pretty brilliant. I remember one day my Dad forcing me out of bed to eat dinner – what a support they were/are to me. God has overcome my trials and my life is more fulfilled than ever. Isn't He good?
Your attitude, and your happiness are a mentality. It's a CHOICE you make. It is a decision you make every day. Your attitude is based on your value system. Negativity is selfish. It really is. I can’t think of an example where negativity comes out of anything but self-focus. That’s not what God wants in our lives. He said in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for HOPE and a future." If we really believe that verse, what do we have to be so cranky about? We have hope! We have a future!
I am an extreme proponent of what goes in, also comes out. Just as you nourish or harm your body with food, you can nourish or harm your mind with what you put in it. It is so very VERY important to monitor what goes in your mind, eyes and ears. What movies you watch - what conversations you have - what you read - it ALL affects you. It's not just important when you are children - it's important your WHOLE LIFE. Your mind is an extremely powerful thing, and you can either control it, or it can control you.
We have the ability to encourage those that surround us, or we have the ability to tear them down. How do we act towards, or speak to, our friends, children and spouses?
Friends - When you get together with your friends, it's easy to slip into vent-mode. And sometimes that's ok. You have had a long day, your kids are driving you nuts, and you want to share your frustrations with someone that experiences similar things. Everyone needs that now and again - just be careful. 1) Don't drag it out. If you need to vent, get it over with and preferably, find some sort of solution to your problem. Hopefully by the end of the conversation you haven’t just dwelt on the negative, but perhaps you have also communicated some of your goals. 2) Watch what you say about your family to other people. Make sure that the friends you have to talk to are ones that don't just listen, but ENCOURAGE YOU. If you are venting, most likely you need some encouraging words, or advice on how to resolve the issues. Find someone who is bold enough to tell you those things. Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. Surround yourself with friends that uplift you, not friends that encourage you to wallow!
Children - they know just what buttons to push don't they? But they are also your gift from God. They are a constant blessing, a constant reminder of what is truly important in life. I have no problem disciplining or putting Keegan in his place when it is deserved - it's all part of growing up. I don't ever want to become someone that really loses it. It shouldn't become more about me than it does really trying to instruct the child in what is right. Really think about this - if you were to lose your child/children tomorrow, how would you speak to them today?
It's important to have a positive attitude around your children. They usually mirror our attitude and actions. WE as parents have the ability to change our child's perspective. We have the power to encourage them, to speak positive things to them, and to build them up. One thing we periodically do in my family, is print out positive sayings and post them on Keegan's bathroom mirror. Sometimes they are intended to remind him to have a positive attitude when he has been struggling with that, and sometimes they are to remind him that we love him. They are always happy and encouraging, because we want to train his mind to be happy.
Marriage - I learned quite a bit from my divorce and my value system was completely changed. Since I have gone through that part of my life and grown as an individual, I realize what is and is not important, so much more than I used to. If something gets broken - is it the end of the world? No. If your husband asks you the same question 10x in a row - does that REALLY matter? No. Patrick’s value system also changed in the past several years and I get to reap the benefits as well. As my Mom might say, I’m a messy and he is a neaty. I tend to drop clothes on the floor for a few days until it bugs me and then I have a cleaning spree, then the cycle repeats itself. My husband is typically much more organized than that. As an example, I have bobby pins all over the house. I nap, they fall out, I put them in my pocket, whatever. I also forget to take them out of the shower and sometimes they leave little rust marks. Does this annoy my husband? Sure. Should I make a mental note of that and make more of an effort? Absolutely. However, my husband NEVER yells about those things. Why? Because bobypins around the house are less important to him than our relationship. In the long run, what really matters? Communication is important and if something bugs you, you should tell the other person, but that does not mean it constitutes a fight.
I once heard that marriage should be 100/100 not 50/50. That way, when one spouse isn't at 100%, the other has it covered and vice versa. It's a support team. It's what you value. Do you spend the day thinking of ways to make your spouse happy? If so, you probably think less and less about yourself, and you have started a positive thinking cycle. By the way, usually when you start doing kind things for your spouse, they do kind things for you too! (See my blog post on the 5 Love Languages for more ideas of how to love your spouse!)
Speaking of staying positive in your marriage- don't throw your spouse under the bus when you hang out with your friends. It's not funny, and it's not encouraging. A lot of people make comments thinking they are being funny, but in reality, its a way to share a frustration they have. "oh you know how men are, I have to do everything around the house!" “My husband wouldn’t know how to the load the dishwasher if his life depended on it (giggle)” Silly examples maybe, but you get my point. If it bothers you, talk to HIM about it - don't just assume your life has to be that way. Secondly, it's not cool to make fun of your spouse or to share their struggles with other people. Your spouse needs to be the person you go to - not the person you blab about in a gossip circle. If your spouse knows you speak highly of them in public, that alone is an encouragement to them. Verbally affirm them daily to their face and let them know you love/respect/value them!
One thing you can do – today – right now, is start posting verses around your house. Not just any verses. You need to choose specific verses that retrain your mind to drop the guilt, and focus on God’s promises. Let me explain what I mean:
The entire Bible is God’s inspired Word. That being said, what you meditate on may vary based on your personality. If you struggle with depression, anxiety or guilt, I probably wouldn’t start with:
Phil 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Do you know what I would tell you to avoid focusing too much on that verse? Well, if you are already in guilt/anger/depression mode – focusing on something you struggle with isn’t going to help you. Reading a verse day after day telling you not to be anxious when all you feel like you can be is anxious isn’t going to encourage you. Should you choose to memorize them anyway, read them with the understanding that God is not giving you a command and if you are anxious you are sinning (guilt alert !! guilt alert !!). Rather, He is communicating that He loves you and wants the best for you. Anxiety causes all sorts of mental and physical problems, and because of His great love for us, He doesn’t want us to experience those things.
I would suggest focusing on verses that contain God’s promises – verses of hopefulness – promises of GRACE.
Here are a few you may want to start with:
Phil 4:8-9 (one of my personal favorites)
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans for hope and a future.
For by grace have you been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Think of one thing you can do each day this week that has a positive impact – tell your children you love them and give them a hug at night – tell your husband you value him – wash the dishes for your wife without her asking – write her a note on the coffee machine so she sees it when she wakes up. Start your day with positive thoughts, and end it with happy dreams J