For the month of June, I’m embarking on a Positivity Project in order to be more intentional about approaching all the Lord has provided with the utmost gratitude.
Last week, I focused on just that: gratitude. Through three different goals, I focused on growing both my internal and external gratitude. To learn more about that week of the project, click here.
The theme for Week 2 is Take Negative Thoughts Captive. While counteracting negative thoughts with items of gratitude was immensely helpful and a practice I plan to continue, what I now would like to focus on is changing from a negative mindset altogether.
There are always many ways to look at each situation. A situation “is what it is;” more often than not, it’s not something we can change (or, at least not instantly). What we can change in any given instance is how we approach a situation, both internally and externally.
Take, for instance, the fact that my son Trippe just turned two a few weeks ago. There is not much I can change about that situation; he’s going to be two for the next year, whether I have a positive mindset about it or not. What I can change is my mindset about the fact that he’s two. It’s all about what you choose to focus on, and what you let define a given moment & day. You can call it the “Terrible Twos” or the “Terrific Twos;” you can focus on the massive fit that he threw over not getting to rip your glasses off of your face, or how cute he is as he’s learning to identify his body parts (his current favorite to identify is his “elboat”).
I heard a quote once that has really stuck with me (and unfortunately I forget the author): “If you’re not happy, change a situation, or change your mind about it.”
I do want to be sure to mention a brief caveat to this project, since it was brought to mind as a result of the sermon my pastor preached yesterday. As Christians, it is important to be honest with God and our fellow believers about our weaknesses. We should not try to hide the things in which we lack and the areas that we need prayer. For one thing, “God is made perfect in our weakness.” Being able to identify God’s strength and our need for his strength in our lives is critical. Knowing when to say, “God, I can never you this, but You can,” is vital to the Christian life. Putting up a facade on a Sunday morning and failing to tell our brothers and sisters what’s really going on in our lives is not helping anyone. It’s this “social media mindset” of only sharing what’s Pinterest-worthy in our lives. Be vulnerable, so that we may build one another up for good works through Christ & the gospel.
However, I think there is a fundamental difference between being vulnerable in our relationships with God & fellow believers, and walking around constantly focused on them. God has granted us so many good gifts, and I think we have far too much of a tendency to focus on what we’re missing instead of what he’s given. While his power is made perfect in weakness, his power is also made perfect in our acknowledging with utmost gratitude that his strength is working through our weakness to create beautiful gifts in our daily lives! That’s why I think this project is so important.
With all this in mind, here are my goals for Week 2:
- Any time I think a negative thought (and catch myself), I will immediately counteract it with a positive thought about the same situation. (For example, if I think, “man I am so tired, I wish I could take a nap,” I will instead think, “wow, I am really grateful for how productive I’ve been today. Lord, will you give me the strength to joyfully complete the work that I still need to do today?”
- When approached with negativity in a conversation, I will do all I can to flip it around to focusing on the positive aspects of that topic. (For example, if someone says,” “ugh it’s horribly hot outside!” I will say, “yes, but thank goodness it’s finally warm and we aren’t faced with the never-ending cold anymore!”)
Along with these new goals, I also plan to focus on the five items of gratitude in my morning and evening prayers, as well as offering up sincere gratitude to others (part of my Week 1 goals). I’m looking forward to seeing my mindset continue to change this week!