As a girl, I often heard the song, “Accentuate the Positive.” You can listen to many versions of it on YouTube, including those by Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Paul McCartney.
While there can be a danger of being too Pollyannaish (unrealistically optimistic), there is a lot to be said for focusing on positive things. St. Paul wrote, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about theses things” (Philippians 4:8). He also wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). “Renewing our minds” can be seen as turning our thoughts to what is good, holy, and productive, and if you’re a believer, focusing on God.
There are many articles to be read on “negativity bias,” the tendency of humans to give more attention to negative than to positive things. How else would news outlets survive? We can be almost ghoulish in our fascination with the negative.
An illustration in my own life would be my lifelong tendency to take offense, to take things personally, or to assume the negative intent of someone. I’ve had to battle this my whole life. It’s a serious internal battle, requiring much prayer and refocusing.
Just the other day, a person in my life did not react in a way I had been hoping. An insidious little devil in me started ruminating on why the person “didn’t like me,” “didn’t trust me,” and on and on. Then, thankfully, another thought came to me, “Hey, wait a minute — earlier in the conversation, they smiled and said something positive. Why don’t I remember that, instead of the other stuff?” From training my mind over the years to reframe incidents and refocus my thinking, I was, by the grace of God, able to get over this incident relatively quickly. The “training” has included Bible study and help from a therapist.
In Isaiah 42:3, it says “a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” This was fulfilled by Jesus (see Matthew 12:9-21). We are all broken in many respects; perhaps some are more broken than others. Thankfully, Jesus is willing to work with us.
Thank You, Everyone!
Ohio Report: January 26, 2022
Here in southwest Ohio, it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning at 7:20 a.m. No wind to speak of, clear skies, and no ice on the roads, so it could be a lot worse. No snow today, except little piles left over from January 17th.
I’m sure people from Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the northernmost states of the U.S., and other places will be laughing at me for thinking 7 degrees is unusual, but it is for this coastal California girl! Maybe a few times at Lake Tahoe, I’ve experienced 7 degrees.
If you have cold weather, never take for granted (if you have them) a home, a furnace, electricity, warm clothes, and food to sustain you. I once watched a documentary in which they did an experiment with three couples or families, perhaps around the 1990s or later. The challenge was to see if they could survive a winter without all the modern conveniences. I think they had a cabin already; not sure. At any rate, they had to grow and preserve enough food, and collect enough firewood to survive winter. All three families failed. They didn’t preserve enough food nor collect enough firewood. They had to go back to their regular life before finishing the challenge.
The goats at my son’s in-laws are doing well in their indoor winter pen. They have a milk house heater for when it’s freezing or below. These are Nigerian dwarf goats, so they aren’t as hardy as, say, Scottish goats. They eat grain, leaves, and hay, and seem to really enjoy having people visit and pet them, not to mention the food provided.
We are fine here because of hundreds, if not thousands, of people: those who made our warm clothes; those who grow, deliver, and sell food; those who make and sell and maintain furnaces and refrigerators; those who build facilities for and maintain and deliver gas and electricity; those who collect our garbage once a week; those who deliver mail and packages to us; those who sustain us spiritually and/or in friendship and love, those who helped us have health and the ability to work to pay for bills – the list could go on and on. Thank you, everyone!
Update: December 23, 2022
It was NEGATIVE 7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. 7 degrees is balmy!