Optimistic thinking is a learned behavior

Published 6:21 pm Friday, May 12, 2017

As a minister, I am always being updated about what is happening in the daily news and regularly reminded about how the world is falling apart.

I do appreciate the hard work from the news agencies to keep us informed, but we must also realize there needs to be a balance between constantly absorbing what everyone else is doing and concentrating on the life we have been called to live.

While it is true there are many bad things that happen every minute, we should also remember this does not mean everyone is a criminal or the entire world is a valley of death and darkness. There have always been bad people that do evil things, but it just seems worse now because the population has grown and with advancing technology we can instantly know what is going on everywhere.

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Unfortunately, this constant flood of negative information can overload our emotions and cause fear, anxiety and stress. It is also not a coincidence that technology and antidepressant medications have grown together.

Years ago, people lived somewhat isolated from the constant bombardment of bad news which, by the way, gave them much less to be upset and worried about.

The average person was more focused on their family and investing their time working to make sure they had everything they needed.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “There is no substitute for hard work,” and I believe the concept of perseverance and determination should be included in our education curriculum. Excuse me if my views are old school, but playing on a cellphone all day and watching television all night is not the formula for accomplishment.

OK, back to our subject. Another point we can consider is there are many decent people who are doing good things. They may not receive the same amount of attention, but they are out there. I see this side of the spectrum a little more than the average person because I am in and out of places where these individuals devote their time and resources.

In my small community, I know lots of people who volunteer behind the scenes and are making a huge difference in the lives of others. Just imagine all the ones that support charitable organizations, those who work in the churches and others who are actively involved in community outreach and then multiply that around the world.

Like I said earlier, we rarely hear about these secret agents who are driven with love and concern and are not afraid to act upon their convictions.

To them, I say, “Praise the Lord for you!”

The old illustration of the glass being half-full or half-empty is a timeless truth. We have the choice to think negative thoughts or positive thoughts. Whichever we choose will have a direct influence on what we do and say.

Do we really want to be known for being the first one to be the bearer of bad news or the one who always declares, “It will never work?”

Do we want to be remembered as someone that has a dark cloud of negativity that follows them everywhere they go?

I realize inquiring minds want to know, but we should not receive pleasure from shocking others with the gory details that will give everyone nightmares. Being concerned and broken-hearted about a tragedy is one thing, but getting excited about it is dysfunctional.

I personally believe the most important act we can do is to begin our day in prayer and ask God to help us be a positive person. When we take the time to connect with God, we are being equipped with His attributes to face the day in a higher state of spiritual awareness.

His divine wisdom and discernment will help us live under His control and prevent us from being influenced by our emotions. Whether we embrace it or not, a Christian is accountable for what they think, how they act and what they say and it would be a wonderful testimony and would bring glory to God if we would demonstrate His optimistic light of love, hope and encouragement in every situation.

Billy Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife, Cheryl, where he is a Christian author and community outreach chaplain.