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Are you a pessimist, or a realist? Or should you simply stop worrying?
Scan the news headlines or talk to your friends and neighbors, and there is little doubt that the world is filled with troubles. How can we be positive in such a negative environment? Can we find reasons to be optimistic when modern life is filled with so many troubles?
The news headlines are about international conflicts, wars, earthquakes, fires, failing debt-ridden economies, drug and gang violence, crime, murders, rapes, disease, starvation, poverty and moral decline. People struggle with bad finances, unemployment, health difficulties and family problems. These situations can put us into a negative and pessimistic frame of mind.
Researchers have found that being positive and optimistic can lower a person's risk for having a stroke. Other studies show that being positive is a secret to aging successfully, is effective treatment for those suffering depression and helps us cope with failures.
Many of us have heard admonitions from parents, teachers and coaches encouraging us to have a positive attitude. One well-known motivational speaker and author of success books said, "Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will." Winston Churchill said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
But how can we maintain a positive attitude when there is so much that is negative?
God's Word offers good advice. One step we can take is to quit holding on to the past. The Apostle Paul said, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13–14). Forgetting the past and working toward positive goals are two important principles for positive thinking. Practicing these will not leave us much time for being negative.
Another principle is found in Matthew 6. Worrying is negative thinking, and it accomplishes nothing, so Christ gave us this perspective: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.... Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing?… Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'… For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:25–34).
With such clear instructions, it might be said that excessive worrying is denying the power of Christ to uphold, which is of course sin (Matthew 10:33). On the other hand, researchers have found that those who believe in God worry less. So, believe in God and stop worrying!
Similar advice is found in Philippians 4:6–8: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Being thankful and praying to the Almighty God, and believing in His promises, will help you stay positive.