Years ago, I once worked with a woman who was a constant downer, and felt it necessary to express to me her every negative thought. .......... the meetings were always too long; the content was irrelevant to her; her salary increase was not sufficient; she had to work too much; she was bored with her responsibilities; her breaks were not long enough; she was treated unfairly; her chair was uncomfortable; her family didn't appreciate her; her grocery store didn't carry her favorite brand of bread anymore; her clothes were outdated; her co-workers were out to get her; her husband was never meeting her needs; her children were selfish.
I always felt a bit grumpy after spending any time with her, and sometimes would even catch myself starting to think like her, and maybe even sound like her.
On the other hand, I have a friend who is a joy to be around. I can spend ten minutes in her presence, and my spirits are lifted. I find myself laughing about the silliest things, and we are just silly together. She always wears a smile, has a smiley face on her heart, and is just really pleasant. People love being around her, because she makes them feel good. It feels refreshingly fun to hang out with her, no matter what we are doing!
I always feel good after spending time with this friend, and that is the type of person I want to be.
People influence our attitudes more than we realize.
I can only assume that most likely, you have also known people from both of these spectrums. But have you ever thought about how they impacted your thoughts, and possibly your behaviors, after spending time with them?
If you are allowing that positive person to rub off on you, then you go girl! But if it is a negative person who is influencing your attitude, then it may be time to make a change.
I know, I know... we don't like change. Change is hard, especially when it comes to the people we have in our life, but in some cases, it is necessary, if we want our attitudes to be like Christ.
Let's be reminded of God's suggestion, for our own good, about changing our attitudes, in
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
If we ask for a positive attitude with a motivated heart that is seeking God's will, it will be ours. As we begin to walk closer with Him, our attitude will be transformed.
Because our walk with Christ influences our attitudes.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life - and it can be the first day that you sincerely ask for transformation of your mind, while seeking out God's will for you for a positive attitude. Today, you can choose to commit to making optimism a reality in your life - despite the people and circumstances that you have to deal with.
Yesterday I shared a story of how a stranger's positive thinking infected my own thinking. I "caught" his optimism, and it transformed my mind. Consider the airborne attitude that you have been "spreading" , is it worth catching?
Day Eight Optimist Challenge: Stop letting the negativity of other people have a negative affect on your own attitude.
Let your thoughts wander to consider all of the people in your life. As names come to mind, consider whether or not any of those people have a negative influence on your attitude. If so, think about what you can do to counteract those negative influences, by deciding to make a change that will benefit you, your quest for optimism, your walk with Christ, and ultimately your overall sense of joy.
Below are a few suggestions to help bring about positive change:
1. If there is someone that you spend time with who is negatively influencing your attitude with their consistent pessimism and complaining, begin to approach this person differently. Instead of listening, agreeing or even being pulled into their negativity, begin counteracting their negative statements with a positive response, or optimistic outlook. Help them to see the "silver lining".
Doing this may not only change your attitude, but change theirs as well! But even if it doesn't , it will probably annoy them enough to stop being negative around you! After all, it is hard to be negative around someone who is joyful and wearing a smile. So even if your optimism doesn't rub off on them, at least you have guarded your heart from negativity.
2. If your attempts to counteract a person's negativity with positive responses continues to fall on deaf ears, and continues to be a drain on your joy, it may be time to ask yourself whether or not this is a relationship you want to continue investing in. Sometimes it is in our best interest to separate ourselves from negative influences, while asking God to help us do this in a way that exemplifies grace and mercy towards the other person.
Keep in mind, that our desire to be positive, even at the sake of a relationship, can be a huge witness to someone whose heart is infiltrated with bitterness. Our optimism may not only help them see their need for optimism, but also see their need for the joy that comes by knowing a merciful and loving God.
3. There are situations where it may be impossible to completely separate ourselves from a negative influence in our life. In that case, the only thing we can do is pray for God's intervention, seeking the strength and courage to stay positive despite someone else's
Secondly, God calls us to pray for those who are negative and bitter, because most likely, they are that way because they have been hurt themselves. They may be lost, and do not know how to find the optimism that we have available through Christ. They may need someone to stand in the gap for them, as God calls us to do in Ezekiel 22:30. Even if they do not know it, or will not admit it, they are desperate for someone to pray for them.
Ezekiel 22:30 I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
4. Choose to be that someone who people enjoy being around. Ask God to convict your heart before any negative words leave your lips. And smile, even if you don't feel like it.
5. If after some soul searching, you realize that maybe that you are being a negative influence on others, due to some hurts in your own heart, ask God to fill you with the joy that you once had. Seek His strength to counteract your own thoughts, and infiltrate your mind with optimism. It may take some time and effort to truly turn your attitude around, but it will be well worth it!
Ask God for the desires of your heart. Do you desire to be a more positive person? Do you wish you could have an optimist attitude about people and circumstances in your life, instead of habitually looking at the negative side of things? Do you wish you were a little more outgoing and refreshing? Do you desire to be a good influence on others? Do you want other people to look forward to being with you because of how you make them feel?
Remember sweet friends, God promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. And if we ask, we will receive. And that includes mastering the art of being an optimist.
Ask God to place a smiley face on your heart today.
- The final two challenges will be posted next week - so stay tuned!