Here’s how to stay positive in these trying times

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To say that the times are trying is an understatement. A listen to any newscast will bring plenty of bad news. It’s not just in this country, but it seems that all over the world there is a crumbling of foundations. There are teetering economies, unraveling societies, uncertain climate changes, and the human body just ain’t what it used to be. You’ve heard all the bad news and more than you would like.

I’m not as old as some who read this column, but I’ve been around the block a time or two. As the Native Americans used to describe a year, the earth has moved around the sun more than 60 times since I was born. The years have been very kind to me, better than I deserve.

I will acknowledge, however, that the current times are more challenging than any I have experienced. Not for me, personally, but overall, the times are tough.

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My challenge, though, is to try to stay above the negatives. That’s a good goal and we all need goals. What can I, or we, do to not let all the “stuff” that goes on every day and all around us not get us down? I’ve thought about it and offer a few suggestions that work for me.

First of all, I count my blessings. Sometimes it might seem impossible, but things can always be worse. Recently, I had a corn between the little toe on my right foot and the toe next to it. It was painful, but when I thought about people who have really serious problems, I didn’t think too much about my corn. I think that’s called perspective.

I’ve got a friend who has a really rough row to hoe. It seems that life is always throwing him a hard curve. Most of the time, his choices in life, mostly past choices, are the cause of the troubles. The Bible says that we are not to kid ourselves; we will reap what we sow. My friend has certainly sown the wind and, now reaps the whirlwind.

Yet, when asked about life, he is thankful for the very breath that awakens him. Simply acknowledging that we have blessings in our lives is a good place to start when trying to negotiate the difficulties of living in these uncertain and hard times. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong, begin with an honest appraisal of what is going right.

Secondly, if I make an honest appraisal of what is going right and count all those as blessings, it behooves me to also make an honest appraisal of what might not be going right. A way to stay positive about problems is to recognize them. It’s impossible to solve any problem if there is no acknowledgement of the problem.

An honest look in the mirror should not be a pity party, but just that: honesty. For every problem there is a solution, I’ve always heard. It might not be an easy or pleasant solution, but if approached as something that will bring to an end a difficult solution, that’s positive! The sooner, the better.

Staying positive means identifying the good and the bad with honesty and being thankful for the good and determined to say goodbye to the bad.

Another thing that helps when seeking to stay positive is realizing that what is heard and seen, what goes into the mind and spirit, affects our attitudes. One of the greatest culprits affecting our thinking is that machine that we call the television. Too much of other people telling us all that is wrong with our world or nation can lead us to thinking that the future is nothing but bleak.

I am one to talk (or write). I like to watch the news, the debates, the cable opinion shows (I don’t call them news), and such, but sometimes all they are trying to do is get a rise out of a viewer’s blood pressure. Watching them every night will lead one to question just about everything from who is about to blow us up to whether the temperature of the earth is about to make Antarctica disappear.

I’m not advocating sticking your head in the sand and not knowing or caring about anything; just saying that listening to the television and mistaking it for the Gospel truth is not a direction down the positive pathway.

The Bible gives us good advice. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians advises us to think about those things that are true, noble, right, pure, and lovely. That’s positive thinking and helps with the goal of living above the negativity.

Keeping active, physically and mentally, is important to a positive outlook. Doing something to benefit a friend or someone else makes for a good feeling. Getting out of the house to take a walk beats just sitting around.

Staying positive in these trying times is a challenge and a good goal. Remember that God created us in His image to do good works and to live a life that is abundant. It’s not always easy; especially when so much of what has been taken for granted seems to fail.

I mentioned the New Testament writer Paul a moment ago. He had many good and bad times. Times of plenty and times of nothing. But he got through them all with confidence in Christ Jesus. So can we.