Oxford says positivity is “the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.”
For the Christian, positivity isn’t being born with a glass half-full attitude. It’s not a plastic smile plastered over pain, difficulty or sin. Nor is it self-generated optimism based on some snake-oil teaching that thinking positive can change an outcome.
Christian positivity is a choice rooted in God’s truth that supersedes circumstances.
Confession: I wasn’t born with a naturally sunny-side-up personality. I can grumble with the best of them.
But going through hard grief changed me. It made me realize that even on my worst day, God is good and God does good. That God cares for us personally and practically in deep valleys and that He breathes new life from ashes. And scripture clearly tells us the incredible power of gratitude.
Gratitude isn’t toxic posivity. Faith isn’t toxic posivity. And hope isn’t toxic positivity. Our most difficult day is still filled with eternal hope, infinite good and measureless love.
Let’s look at 10 ways to authentic positivity in life.
10 ways to authentic positivity.
1.Worship in song.
Worship moves our eyes off us and fixes it on God. Adoration of who God is shifts our focus, renews our hope and reminds us of God’s constant faithfulness. Whether we sing an old hymn or cue a playlist, we can worship anywhere. Paul worshipped in prison. David worshipped in the streets.
Psalm 150:6 instructs: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
2. Surrender control.
We cannot control our circumstances but we can control how we respond in the circumstances. When we trust God 100% for provision, direction and outcomes, we let go of the worry and exhaustion that comes with carrying burdens not meant for us.
Jesus promised: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:28-29
3. Get perspective.
A few days ago, I left my cell phone on a restaurant table. Realizing it as soon as I got to my car, I returned but the table was already cleared and after an hour of asking, searching and retracing steps, it was gone. “I’m sorry, Mom. Did this ruin our day?” my daughter asked about our outing. Not one iota. When Dan died, my perspective forever shifted to know what matters and what doesn’t. Yes, the contacts, pictures and work data on my phone are important but losing them didn’t even register on the list of hard and it surely couldn’t ruin a special day with special people.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 says: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
4. Remember God’s purposes.
That lost cell phone? My daughter reminded me more than once that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28) Sometimes we get to see the good and sometimes not. Maybe God wanted to prune my social media habits. Maybe He wanted to delay us to miss an accident. Maybe it’s just part of life and yet God will always work His good. Remembering that God’s purposes supersede our circumstances helps us reframe every situation.
5. Forgive quickly. Comments can offend and hurt us. Sometimes it’s accidental or unknowing; sometimes it’s intentional. If we dwell on the offense, the hurt magnifies, our heart sours and a root of bitterness is sown. We need to forgive quickly, even if the person doesn’t ask or deserve it. In forgiving others, we trust the offense and the offender to God. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
6. Pray for a good attitude. True attitude change comes from true heart change, and only God can do that in us. Maybe you’ve heard the story about holding a cup of coffee when it gets knocked. What spills out? Coffee of course! The lesson is whatever is in our cup will spill out when life interrupts and bumps us. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” Matt 12:34-35 Only God can make our evil heart good.
7. Practice gratitude. “Thank you for that cardinal,” a friend had prayed and after the amen, I asked about it. The weekend before, she’d offered another friend a ride to a women’s conference, but when she arrived, the friend hadn’t yet packed! The longer she waited, the more steamed she got. Then she spotted a cardinal and watching the bright red bird play in water and flit from branch to branch, her anger dissipated. She could genuinely smile when her friend finally appeared. Gratitude leads to joy as we see God’s goodness lining every situation. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all things because it’s God’s will for us.
8. Hide God’s Word in your heart. We need to know the Bible to root our attitudes in it. Memorizing scripture helps us internalize God’s Word. Verses shape our mind and heart as we study and come back to us when we need them most. “[K]eep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 7:2-3
9. Get moving. I love that God designed us with chemicals that are natural mood boosters. These endorphins are triggered when we exercise. They generate a positive feeling, a sense of well-being and a positive outlook. Endorphins also help clear our mind of stress, anxiety and worry and even act as an analgesic for pain, sadness, loneliness and other negative emotions. Psalm 139:14 reminds us God has made us fearfully and wonderfully.
10. Guard your intake. The shows we watch, the podcasts we listen to, the friends we hang with affect our attitude. I once had to veto all HGTV because it made me discontent with our home. Philippians 4:8 says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
Having written these, I feel a test coming on. May our attitude reflect a love for Christ above the world, and people above things. May we spill authentic joy and hope when life bumps into us.