When bad circumstances threaten to steal your joy, shift your attention to the good in your life. Celebrate what God is doing around you. Focus on what is positive rather than what is negative. There is proven power in choosing to be optimistic. The story you tell yourself about the events in your life goes a long way toward creating your experience. So when you think about the hard things you are experiencing, be intentional about finding the positive as well. Doing so is the key not only to emotional health but also to physical health, mental health, and spiritual maturity.
Positive psychology expert Dr. Martin Seligman has much to say on this issue. In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, he says:
“People tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well. . . . To overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.”
When you think about the hard things you are experiencing, be intentional about finding the positive as well.
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Seligman goes on to suggest an exercise called the What-Went-Well exercise (also known as Three Blessings), which has been scientifically proven to increase emotional well-being. We describe a version of it here, with credit to him.
Every night for one week, write down three positive events from your day—three things that went well. These can be simple things such as “My husband picked up my favorite flowers on the way home” or more important things such as “My friend just gave birth to a healthy baby boy.”
Next to each positive event, write down your answer to the question, ‘Why did this event happen?’ For example, you might write, “My husband picked up flowers because I mentioned we needed some” or “My friend had a healthy baby because God is so good and because she took such good care of herself during her pregnancy.” As Seligman notes, this exercise may seem awkward at first, but keep with it and it will get easier. Hopefully looking at the positive will become a habit. Countless studies prove that as you do this exercise regularly, you will be less anxious, less depressed, and quantifiably healthier.
A sense of gratitude is an important precursor to an ability to focus on the positive. Learn to say thank you for the good in your life. If you simply start looking, you will find so many things to be thankful for. Think about these things. Talk about these things. Refuse to complain. Let your subconscious hear your grateful words so it can, in turn, pull up more opportunities for gratefulness in your life.
Learn to say thank you for the good in your life.
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– Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson
The above excerpt is from p. 123-124 of The New You: A Guide to Better Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Wellness.
With your copy of The New You, you will come away with specific strategies on how to lose weight, get more sleep, lower stress, nurture better relationships, connect with God and much more! Anyone who wants to trade in the frustration of average living and less-than health for the hallmarks of the new life God promises will find The New You an effective personal guide for the journey.
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