Sometimes we are just not happy with anything. If it’s raining, we’d rather have sunshine. If it’s very sunny, it’s too hot. If things are going well, we worry that something bad is just about to happen.
If we come across someone else who thinks like this on a consistent basis, we’re not really all that happy to be around them. Most of us would prefer to be around people who are positive and uplifting.
In 1825, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to a friend in which he said, “How much suffering has been caused by all of the evil things that have never happened?” We can worry and fret and sometimes put ourselves through a great deal of mental anguish.
God’s word tells us, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13). The Hebrew word that is here translated “sorrow of the heart” means depression. And who of us hasn’t been depressed at some time. But how many times has that depression been self-induced – a result of a negative outlook. Continuing in Proverbs chapter 15, “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast” (verse 15).
Now, that’s an interesting way of putting it, and it is a solid, biblical principle. If you’re afflicted then everything looks bad. But it you have a merry heart, a positive attitude, things look considerably different. In another translation it says that the afflicted person never has a good day. Our outlook and our positivity or negativity can have a profound effect on our entire lives.
A follower of God should be a positive person. Now, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be bad times. That doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong. But the way that you react to those bad times, and wrong things in our lives, will determine to a very large extent the outcome in our lives. Remember, an afflicted or negative person never has a good day. That is not “pie-in-the-sky” or Pollyannaish – it is biblical.
The Bible also shows us where that positive outlook comes from. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).
And here is another well-known scripture: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The Apostle Paul made no bones about it. We must learn to think in a positive way. How do we do that? As with anything else, practice. With God’s help – with God’s Holy Spirit actively working in our lives – we can learn to be more positive. It takes effort. And if we find ourselves in a negative situation, it will take a lot of effort. But it is doable. If we want to change and ask God for His help to do so, positive things can happen!