Last week we talked about how to avoid negative people. Today, let’s talk about what we can do to not become one of them. I’m a big believer in having an attitude of gratitude, which most of you know. Gratitude can take you places skill never will. A wonderful side effect of gratitude is that you’ll begin to automatically focus on the good. When that happens, the good in your life will grow (or at least your awareness of it), thereby giving you more to be grateful for. It’s a beautiful cycle of cause and effect.
We become what we think we are. Whatever our heart is full of, whatever we focus our thoughts and attention on, becomes bigger in our lives, because it becomes bigger in our perspective. The bible advises us to think on whatever is good, whatever is holy, whatever is of good report. That admonishment is not just about getting the feel goods. It’s about a simple premise: what we focus on changes who we are, and who we are is built upon what we believe in. In other words, focusing on the good increases our faith.
I’m not saying we should walk around with our heads in the clouds, totally unaware of what’s going on in the world around us. I’m saying that we should be mindful of how much negativity we take in on the daily. The world won’t end if we turn off the news, put down our phone, disconnect from social media. In my personal experience, I’ve found that it keeps right on turning. The difference is that I’m a better person for guarding my heart, mind and spirit from negativity and opening up to the good around me. I think you will be, too.
I can feel some of you thinking, “But what if my life isn’t full of a lot of good right now?” I hear you. I totally understand that feeling, especially when your gratitude muscles aren’t that strong. So I’ve got a little story for you.
When I was a young girl, I used to sit in testimony service at church. Inevitably, various members of the congregation would rise to their feet and proclaim, “I thank God for waking me up this morning and clothing me in my right mind. I thank Him for the activity of my limbs.” And so on, and so forth.
This is the part where I would roll my eyes. Because how can a mind be clothed? And what, exactly, are limb activities? I’m older now, and just a little bit wiser. You see, I now understand those turns of phrase for the traditions they are. I come from a long line of Southern born African-Americans. I don’t need to go over the history of what that means for my historical lineage. Suffice it to say that we were no strangers to lack, and fear and injustice. And so it makes sense that in a world where many did not wake up in sanity, nor with the full movement of their limbs, that my ancestors’ version of focusing on the good was to call out the basic human rights that many take for granted.
So, if they found a way to focus on the good, what’s our excuse?
Choosing to focus on the good has less to do with your circumstances and more to do with the way you view them. There is always some good to be found. Train yourself to see it, cling to it and watch it spread. What would happen if you spent a little time every day listing three things you’re grateful for? No matter how big or how small? You’ve got nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain.
What are you most grateful for today?