Cultivate positivity so it become part of you | Weekly Worship

By Mark Smith, Mukilteo Presbyterian

There is a story about a farmer who was continually optimistic, seldom discouraged.

He had a neighbor who was just the opposite. Grim and gloomy, he faced each new morning with a heavy sigh.

The happy, optimistic farmer would see the sun coming up and shout over the roar of his tractor, "Will you look at that beautiful sun and the clear sky!” And with a frown, the negative neighbor would reply, "Yeah - it'll probably scorch the crops."

When clouds would gather and the much-needed rain would start to fall, our positive friend would smile across the fence, "Ain't this great - God is giving our corn a drink today!" Again, the same negative response, "Uh huh...but if it doesn't stop before long, it'll flood and wash everything away."

One day, the optimist decided to put his pessimistic neighbor to the test. He bought the smartest, most expensive bird dog he could find.

He trained him to do things no other dog could do. He then invited the pessimist to go duck hunting with him. They sat in the boat, hidden in the duck blind.

In came the ducks.  Both men fired and several ducks fell into the water.

"Go get 'em!” ordered the owner. The dog leaped out of the boat, walked on the water, and picked up the birds one by one.  "Well, what do ya think of that?"

The pessimist answered, "He can't swim, can he?"

We have all known people who always put a negative spin on things. They focus on the bad and miss the good; they see only the obstacles and overlook the opportunities; they dwell on the tragedies and ignore the triumphs. They see life through dark-colored glasses – casting a gloomy pall over everything.

Pessimism is an attitude that we choose.

For some strange reason, we rather like to play the role of “victim” and get some sort of satisfaction from whining about our situation. If we choose the negative often enough, pessimism becomes habitual and eventually becomes an aspect of our character that colors everything we think and do.  It determines our basic approach to life.

Like Eeyore in A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh,” our attitude descends to the level of a dull negative whine.

What a terrible fate – to go through life always assuming the worst, and constantly pouring cold water on every good idea or exciting opportunity that comes down the pike!

How can we cultivate a spirit of optimism towards life so that it becomes part of our character?

If we want to possess a positive spirit, then we must surround ourselves with positive people.  There is nothing better for our spirit than to associate with ‘can-do” people who are excited about life and its opportunities and who constantly encourage us along the way.  We are rich indeed if we can count people like that amongst our inner circle. When we are down, a true friend is one who will pick us up and will remind us of whatever is good and beautiful.

Secondly, we can make a conscious effort to focus on the positive in life. Our attitude is something we can choose.  If our first inclination is to assume the worst and poor cold water on everything, we can, with God’s help, catch ourselves in the thought and choose to dwell instead on what is good and beautiful and positive.

Perhaps we can ask a spouse or a friend to catch us in the act of thinking negatively.

The Bible gives wise counsel: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever his pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise worthy – think about such things . . . And the God of peace will be with you.”