Have you ever had to spend time with someone who is incurably negative? I’m sure you have – we all have. I confess that I am often that person who drags others down alongside herself. When we’re in a mood to be negative, we only see the bad side of things. We think the world is out to get us and we’ve done nothing wrong. The project definitely won’t work. It is way too cold outside. That person is being absolutely awful.
Negativity is an easy thing to fall into, no matter where we are in life. It’s positivity that takes work. Our sinful natures want us to groan when the alarm clock goes off and criticize our coworkers and it is easy to listen to that nature. What’s not easy is to get out of bed cheerfully even when we’re still tired or find something to compliment in that one person.
The sin of negativity lurks everywhere, simply waiting for us to stumble into it. Or, as we often do, to waltz lovingly into its arms. But what if we were to fight the cruel master of negativity? And it is a master, taking over every facet of our minds and day while we allow it to.
When we dig ourselves into a hole of hating the world that is out to get us for no reason whatsoever, we are being ungrateful for the good things that God gives us. We are twisting His creation. That one slow waitress might have been an opportunity to show Christian love, but we turned it into an opportunity to save some money on a tip and grumble on the drive home. In this fallen world, turning good things into bad is easy. It’s second nature.
But we are not called to live in a passive, second nature sort of way. We are called to a new nature, one that has been transformed by Christ. And I believe that means a nature of positivity.
Remember when Paul and Silas were thrown in prison? That’s a pretty bad situation. But instead of sitting on the hard dirt and commiserating about how bad their circumstances were, they prayed to God and sang hymns to Him. Because of their positivity in the worst of times, the jailer over them and his entire family heard the gospel and were baptized.
So what does positivity look like in our lives right now? There are two major components to living a more positive life: thinking and speaking.
The thoughts we nurture and allow to grow in our minds have a major impact on who we are as a person and how we see life. We can easily convince ourselves that lies are truth just by thinking that they are. Something that a lot of sports players hear is “envision yourself making the play and you will.” Our thoughts can make or break our pursuit of positivity.
So start catching negative thoughts today. Next time you sigh heavily, stop yourself and ask if that thought was necessary. Replace it with something else. Just as thinking negative things can lead us to be negative people, thinking positive things can also lead us to be positive people. Instead of thinking “this line is taking forever” think “I’m glad I’m getting this shopping done now” or “I bet Mark will really love this book I got him.”
How we think can truly shape who we are and how we interact with the world.
Flowing out of thinking is speaking. A lot of the time, our negativity becomes verbal. We complain to someone about how awful something was and go through making every detail just a little more dramatic. What we’re doing is looking for sympathy over the horrid mess that we’ve made our lives out to be. And while there’s nothing wrong with talking about things that make us angry or upset, when it turns into complaining, that’s a problem.
In addition to fighting the negative thoughts that we love to let grow, we must combat the words that are a product of those thoughts. The thing about words is that they affect other people. When we start telling anyone and everyone about our latest grievance with life, we drag them down with us. We become that person who is obnoxious to listen to and who is no fun to be around. And while it is possible to be obnoxiously positive, it is far harder than to be obnoxiously negative.
Even when our thoughts are negative, we can fight back by using different words. We may be whining about something in our heads, but we don’t have to let the words come out of our mouths. Choosing to speak more positively can help change our mindsets as well. Our mothers provided us with an excellent principle for trying to be more positive: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I truly hope that you will now try to incorporate more positivity into daily life. It’s no fun to live when everything seems bad. And it’s no fun to be around people who live like that. So let’s be the ones to set an example and to move past our childish view of life. There is so much more to it than we can see when we’ve worked ourselves up, so let’s experience the good things God has for us. Let’s really live.