Choose to Focus on the Positive

Scripture to Memorize A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her  and lacks nothing of value.  Proverbs 31:10–11 Passage to Read Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, 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. 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.  Philippians 4:4–9 Guided Prayer Dear Lord, I rejoice in you! Let the joy and rest I find in knowing you be manifested in my life as a gentle and quiet spirit. Thank you for being near. Today I choose, by faith, not to be anxious about anything. Instead, I’m presenting it all to you and trusting you to work all things together for my good. Thank you, Lord. You’ve been so good to me. Holy Spirit, teach me how to recognize and remain in the peace of God, even when my circumstances are anything but peaceful. I know that peace guards my heart, my mind, and my health, too. Forgive me for those times when I get so focused on everything that’s wrong with my life. That gets me nowhere. Instead, I’m fixing my thoughts on what is right in my life: everything that’s true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Since that sums up Jesus perfectly, all I really have to do is fix my eyes on you. Thanks for making it so simple, Lord. Amen. Personal The Proverbs 31 woman was noble and dignified. But there is nothing noble or dignified about a complaining woman. Capable women don’t complain. They take action to change the situation or have enough faith to accept the things they cannot change. The best gift you can give yourself and those around you is an optimistic, can-do attitude. Our physical health and emotional well-being are directly tied to our mental state. Scientific research, including a study done at the University of Maryland, has proven this beyond a doubt: joy and laughter are healers. Negativity—and the stress it creates—is a destroyer.4 Of course, the Bible said it first: “A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22 ESV). One of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on aging well was the Harvard study. They concluded that people in late midlife with an optimistic viewpoint were 50 percent more likely to live another thirty years than those with a negative outlook.5 Lately, I have been spending time with my husband’s 104-year-old great-grandfather, Mike “The Chief ” Nasco. He still lives independently, drives, works from home several hours a day, and even does his own grocery shopping. In short, he’s more active than many people half his age. As of this writing, he was on his way to spend a month at an RV resort to enjoy socializing and boccie ball. Recently he hosted a yard sale with his son. I kid you not! Here’s what he had to say about the role of attitude:

I have always chosen to look at the world—and everyone in it—from an optimistic viewpoint. I find that, when I believe the best in people, it brings the best out of them. Recently I began to second-guess my convictions. All we hear on the news is bad news about the world gone wrong. I began to wonder if there was goodness left in people. So one morning I decided to conduct an experiment. I would greet fifty total strangers and see how they responded. I walked to the nearby bus stop, took a seat, and began greeting passersby. I’m happy to report that forty-nine out of fifty people cheerfully greeted me in return.

People treat us the way we treat them. There is good in everyone if we choose to see it. By believing the best, we bring out the best. The same is true for circumstances that, after all, are largely influenced by people. There is good in every circumstance, even if that good is merely the opportunity to become a more patient, more compassionate, or wiser person. Look for the lesson; look for the positive. Seek and you will surely find. Of course, if you look for the negative, you can always find that as well. But why would you want to? To me, it’s a simple choice. You can choose to see the glass as half empty and be mad or half full and be glad. You can look at all that’s right with the world and the people in it and be happy. Or you can look at all that’s wrong with everyone and everything and be miserable. Not only will such a perspective bring you down, rob you of peace, steal your joy, ruin your health, and possibly erase years from your life; it will make the people around you unhappy as well. In fact it will bring others down, rob their peace, steal their joy, and—if they have to live with you—cheat them out of a long, happy, healthy life. So, if you aren’t willing to choose optimism for yourself, choose it out of concern for those around you. They’ll thank you for it! A huge step in the journey to becoming the women God wants us to be—capable, dignified, virtuous women—is learning to discipline our minds to focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong. During this 90-Day Jumpstart, I want you to turn your attention to the positive by reprogramming your mind with the truth of God’s Word. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1). The mind is a primary battlefield and will either help or hinder our goal of becoming the women God wants us to be. By renewing your mind with positive, personal statements of God’s truth, your thoughts become your ally rather than your enemy. That’s the reason the daily Affirmation is such a vital part of this program. Keep in mind, however, that it won’t be enough simply to read the Affirmation. Frankly, that will do you very little good. You will need to recite the Affirmations aloud, over and over and over, until they begin to transform you from the inside out. As you fill your mind with the truth about who God is and all the good things he has done in the past and desires to do in the future, the negative will eventually get washed away. As you think new thoughts, your attitude will begin to change. Gradually, with a new attitude, the words you speak and the way you respond will change. Your behavior—the actions you take—will change. Then something wonderful will begin to happen. You’ll notice that people respond to you differently. Your circumstances begin to change. It becomes a positive cycle of blessing. Soon you and everyone around you will believe you are capable of handling anything that comes your way—with dignity and without complaint. And it all begins with your daily Affirmation. Affirmation: I choose to focus on the positive, especially the truth of God’s Word; therefore my life is filled with positive outcomes. Practical Begin reciting your Affirmations daily. Each morning, you can rewrite the day’s Affirmation on a Post-it note or index card and carry it with you everywhere you go. Notebook: Write the daily Affirmations on a sheet of paper labeled affirmations in the tag section of your Personal Notebook and begin noting any that are especially meaningful to you. You can also write your own affirmations. The friend who introduced me to the power of reciting affirmations devotes an hour a day to this spiritual discipline and credits it with completely transforming her life. Turn to your affirmations page anytime you have a few spare minutes to redeem the time by renewing your mind.