Don’t worry, be happy …”
the radio sings to me as I speed through another orange light to make it to my appointment. Yeah right, I think to myself. Easy for you to say when you sound like you’re singing from a tropical island.
I’m glum, yet the “egg man” at the local market tells me I am the most positive customer he has and how nice it is to see me. I turn the radio down and ponder my emotional appearances, wondering why it seems the hardest to be most real with one’s family. I teach my children to be happy, to be positive, to share, to think of others first—all of those admirable traits—yet how often do I exemplify these same qualities?
Research shows the benefits of a positive frame of mind. Lower stress levels, better health, stronger relationships and more productivity to name a few. The only real difference between optimists and pessimists is how they deal with failure. Pessimists blame failures on themselves; optimists blame failure on external circumstances.
I’m sure you can think of someone who is always happy. They seem to have a lot of friends and seem to be going places. You probably envy them for something in their life that you wish you had. The good news is this: optimism can be learned. Positive selftalk (what you say to yourself ) is one first steps in the process, but following are some more: Sleep more. Couldn’t we all do with that? When you reflect on your experience, everything does seem worse when you’re tired. (And often it is.)Have a good sleep and you’ll find the world looks a lot brighter and, refreshed, you’re able to think more clearly as well as more positively about it.
Exercise more. Getting those endorphins moving through your body will do a lot for your state of mind. Fresh air and just being outside can change the way the world looks, so give this gift of time to yourself and get moving, even if it is just a brisk walk.
Smile more._ It’s surprising how much happiness this will bring to others, and also how readily people will return this positive gesture, enhancing your self-perception.
Identify good things in your life. Over a month, every day, write down just one positive thing that’s going on in your life. Then keep the list in a place where you can see it. You might be surprised at how many good things you find. You’ll develop a habit of focussing on the positives of life.
Help someone in need. Being able to brighten someone else’s day will give you undeniable joy. This one, you just have to try! Of course, in this harsh, angry world, there are many reasons to feel despondent; some are harder to overlook than others—especially if you’re unemployed, going through a divorce, suffering abuse of some sort, sick or bereaved. That’s life in a world of sin.
However, believe that despite the bad days, God has the “big picture” view of our lives. Knowing this makes it easier to ride out life’s storms.
In fact, the Bible gives encouragement in respect to this very matter.
Writes the apostle Paul (who was in prison at the time), “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (The Message, Philippians 3:12, 13).
True, there will be days when your boss treats you unfairly, where your kids embarrass you, when someone close hurts you or themselves. But amidst those lows, knowing that God is in control and that He promises to carry us through hard times makes a lot of difference—and a lot of sense.