Realistically Optimistic

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It’s easy to think that positive people are simply pie in the sky, superficially blissful. The truth is, that a sincerely optimistic person sees the real picture, but chooses to look at the upside instead of focusing on the negatives. Each of us can decide to be sensibly optimistic, or persistently pessimistic. Here’s a few principles to help us live with a brighter outlook.

Look at the Big Picture.  Ever been to a movie where you sat on the front row? Everything looks ginormous and blurry. But when you sit in the middle of the theater, you get a better perspective as you see the whole picture. Life challenges can seem overwhelmingly large at times, but step back and look at the situation in light of the bigger picture and you can have a calmer and wiser viewpoint.

Take one step at a time.  When we are facing a mountain in front of us, it may seem as though we will never be able to scale the heights. Yet if we take one small step forward, establish our footing and take the next step we will make progress. The key is not running to the top, but rather taking gradually steps upward to get where we are going.

Assess Your Assets.  It’s easy to focus on our weaknesses and feel as though we are making an accurate assessment of the situation. It is true that we each have weaknesses that need to be dealt with, but more important, we each have strengths that need to employed. Let’s take measure of our strengths and the assets, build on them and focus on how to use our gifts to the best of our abilities.

Seek Wise Advice. One of the best ways to stay grounded is to listen to wise counsel. We don’t want to allow someone to zap our hope and drain our dreams, but it is important to listen to other perspectives in order to make wise decisions. The wisdom of others can help us maintain a levelheaded optimism as we move forward with our goals.

Living life with a positive outlook, doesn’t mean we are impractical or unrealistic. On the contrary, we can choose to live with a confidence and boldness, knowing that we see the obstacles and are ready to face them head on with thoughtfulness and hope.

True Positive: Day 14 – Laughter

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Laughter is good medicine! In the busyness of life, sometimes we forget to add a cheerful chuckle into our day. When you face a disappointment or make a mistake, yes you need to feel frustrated, but you can typically find the humor in the situation as well. If you look for the bright side of things, you will typically find it! Everyone needs a good guffaw now and then. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

Without a doubt, a good dose of humor levels some of the bumps in life and lightens the load of our day-to-day routine. When is the last time you had a good hearty laugh? Make the decision today that you will intentionally look for the delightful and funny side of the circumstances in your life. Be honest and realistic, but also allow yourself the freedom to smile and giggle. You will be surprised by the joy of walking on the sunny side of life.

 

Genuine laughing is the vent of the soul, the nostrils of the heart,

and it is just as necessary for health

and happiness as spring water is for a trout.

Josh Billings

 

 

A cheerful heart is good medicine,

But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 NIV

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Creating Calm

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4 Tips for More Peace and Less Stress

Need a little calm in your life? Between the gazillion emails hanging over your head or the crazy amount of activities in your life or the unexpected daily challenges and distractions, perhaps a little peace sounds like a good thing. Although we may not be able to change our circumstances, we can learn to experience calm despite the chaos. Here are four ways to decrease the tension and increase the peace.

Walk and Talk: A simple walk can do wonders for your perspective. Not only does exercise increase the endorphins (one of the happy hormones in the brain), but you can also benefit from enjoying God’s great creation. Sunshine and nature have a calming effect on our emotions, and help us relax physically. As you walk, talk  (not aloud of course) with the Lord and praise Him for His many attributes.  In the Old Testament we read about Enoch who walked with God.  When we praise the Creator of all things, a deep delight wells up in us and replaces the anxieties, worries or fears that may be rumbling around in our minds. Praising God is an exercise of rejoicing in who He is, and reminding ourselves that our great and loving Heavenly Father is bigger than our cares.

Guard your Mind: Often our thought-life robs us of experiencing peace. Despair, worry, bitterness and anger can plague our minds if we let them. But we don’t have to be a slave to our thoughts. We decide what we will dwell on, and we have the ability to change our focus. The Bible reminds us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Recognize when you are allowing negative thought patterns to creep in and make a decision that you are not going to continue to replay those tapes.

Fill Up with Truth: If we turn our minds away from hopelessness, then we need to fill our minds with something positive. Paul told the Philippians to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable. Nothing brings more calm and peace to my mind than reading the Bible. Scripture reminds us of a powerful God who loves and cares for us. For me personally, there are certain passages that I have memorized (Psalm 23, 103, 121), and they have become a refreshment to my soul when I review them. Isaiah reminds us, “He will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are stayed on Him.” Open up your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to nourish your hungry soul. You will be amazed at the peace and strength you find in His living Word.

Surrender: What are you holding onto with clenched fists? Are you willing to pry your hands off of it and surrender your cares, your will or your attitude over to the Lord? You are not surrendering your heart and your cares into oblivion or nothingness, rather you are surrendering your cares to Almighty God whose unfailing love for you can never be quenched. Recently, I ran across an interesting term that seems to illustrate what I’m trying to say. It is an equestrian term – the German word, Losgelassenheit. This term is not easily translated into English, yet it is rich with meaning and motion. “When a horse is losgelassen, he is working but without tension, active without tightness, enthusiastic without evasiveness, he allows his energy to be shaped by his rider without offering resistance. He is lively, yet submissive.” (TrainingTree.net/Losgelassenheit)

Author Martha Beck calls this motion “a joyful and fluid dance” in which the horse is completely relaxed and trusts his rider. The rider (or master),  on the other hand must be experienced, caring and observant. Isn’t this a beautiful picture of our relationship with our Father, who knows us, loves us and cares for us? We can work without tension, as we allow our lives to be shaped and directed by our Father. When we realize that we are not running the show, but that we can trust the one who is, there is a sense of peace and joy that consumes us as we move through the daily chaos. Take a moment right now to surrender your heart, your will and your cares to Him and invite Him to lead you, guide you and comfort you.  Always remember the same Spirit that brought order from chaos in creation, is the Spirit who lives within you.

If you want to get to know your Bible better, read Becoming a Woman of the Word.