“How do you stay so positive in the middle of all these #*^&* Joyce?” said James* who sat across from me.
It baffles my colleagues when I turn up each morning and greet them with a cheerful “Good morning”, a brilliant smile, and an upbeat attitude. We worked in a very tough environment, with challenging goals, in trying circumstances that can (and did) spark conflict among individuals. Though there were many marvelous people around us, there were also difficult ones whose interactions deeply hurt others.
“How do you stay so positive in the middle of all these (bleep) Joyce?” James* looked ragged this morning. His voice was strained. And it was just early in the morning. The question was begging an answer.
How do I stay positive? Not by my effort alone, nor by sheer will, but by the renewing of my mind and spirit. Daily.
Here are the steps I take:
- A Spiritual Shower. I end the day by taking a spiritual shower, as much as I take a physical one, to cleanse the mind and the spirit of ugly thoughts, bad memories, hurt, offense. I recount them out loud or write them on paper, and then I resolve to put them in the past. As a Christian, I do this through prayer because God promised that He would renew my mind when I deal with these things daily.
- Forgiving and Forgiven. I forgive others if there is something to forgive. I name the person and the action that hurt me. I then ask for blessing on the person. (This part can be hard but it’s a choice that I make, notwithstanding my feelings.) As part of my Christian faith, I also ask for forgiveness for anything that was not pleasing to God during my day – mistakes, things I did or didn’t do that I ought to have done. He is always faithful in His promise to forgive.
- An Inventory of Present Blessings. I re-cap what went right, what were good, and I highlight the blessings of the day. Even if the only thing I can think of is that I am alive! I am thankful for these blessings and speak them out loud or write them down in my journal.
- Keep A Record of Life’s Wonders. I keep a journal (many journals, in fact) and have a record of blessings and prayers over the years. For a particularly trying day, I re-read my journal and experience the joy of remembering the past – blessings, prayers, challenges that were overcome, milestones, breakthroughs, miracles!
- Nourish the Spirit. We are mind, body and spirit. Even as I feed my mind and body, I also nourish my spirit through reading the Bible. I keep a daily Bible verse (or two or three) in my mind during my day. These days I write them down on an index card which I keep with me through the day. For [God’s words] are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body” Proverbs 4:22 The Bible, NLT
- Remember There is Another Day. Any unsolved problem or dilemma, I commit to God for another day. Grace and mercies are new every morning! Besides, I believe that with each new day, one gets better, wiser.
A recent article in The Harvard Gazette Smarter by the minute, sort of mentioned research about how our minds age.
While it is true that mental processing speed peak in our teens or early 20s, crystallized intelligence (the ability to synthesize and connect information and make sense of it, to solve complex problems) does not deteriorate as we grow older.
Healthy adults get sharper with age!
How do I stay positive? By renewing the mind and spirit.
As you reflect on your situation, I hope you will enjoy this song “All Things New”. Be renewed!
* Name withheld to protect the person’s privacy
“All Things New” by Hillsong 2014
“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2 The Bible, MSG
“Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 The Bible, NLT
“What we’re seeing is that, across adulthood, some things ‘age’ in the sense that processing speed does go down,” said co-author Laura Germine, a research associate in Harvard’s Psychology Department and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “But other things are doing something very different from what is implied by the word ‘aging.’ They’re maturing, they’re getting refined over time. For the everyday person, the word ‘aging’ implies a breakdown of things. ‘Ripening’ might be better.” Alvin Powell, Smarter by the minute, sort of, Harvard Gazette