Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
The Apostle Paul said something similar, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”- Philippians 4:11. Many times we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude and how we respond. Paul explains how to get to the attitude of contentment.
- Have no anxiety or worry – Trust that God is with you and that He loves you.
- Tell God your need – God does love and care for you
- Be thankful – Gratitude changes everything… Yes everything.
- Focus your thoughts on good – The only thing that can turn the tapes off in our head is the secure knowledge that we are loved and important
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 NLT
Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.” – Dean Karnazes
Hurting people hide. As I look back over past conflicts and hurts my reaction has been to hide and withdraw. I either hide in public by serving people, managing them with kindness, or I withdraw away from people and situations I can’t manage or control. Either one takes me away from relationships, life, community, and intimacy with others.
I have learned that pain takes all of us away from the very things that God designed to bring health and life. We are designed to life in community, not on an island alone.
Healthy people learn that they need to live in an accountable healthy relationship. All of us are doing 1 of 3 things all of the time:
- Moving Away – This is either physical or emotional withdraw. The person who does this feels overwhelmed, angry or anxious and needs to step away to get their thoughts head screwed back on. This may work in the short run but becomes toxic over time.
- Moving Against – This is anger, escalation or just aggressive behavior that is designed to move the other person and make the person feel better. They believe the problem is the other person and they are going to fix them quickly. The false belief is that if they control or stop someone else they stop the internal feelings of anger, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed.
- Moving Toward – Hint….. this is what you want / need to do. Healthy people move toward people or problems. They interact with the desire to solve the problems. They are able to process the feelings of anger, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed and move toward people to create solutions.
All three trends are available to us and healthy persons are able to move in any of these directions when needed. What usually happens, though, is that we become comfortable and used to one of the trends and so the other two become less accessible.
Learn to move toward God, yourself and others. This bring you into life giving relationship.
The concepts in this post come from personality studies using the Enneagram and Karen Horney
I have an app on my phone that will send me the pictures I took of 2 to 5 years ago. Each week I will get an email showing me the pictures small and big events with family and friends. I am surprised at the emotion that they bring up. What I thought were small unimportant moments now bring joy as I remember them.
A recent study revealed that rediscovering mundane experiences can make us happier than we think they will. We generally don’t think about today’s small ordinary moments as experiences that are worthy of being rediscovered in the future. However, studies show that we are often wrong: What is ordinary now actually becomes more extraordinary in the future — and more extraordinary than we might expect. The research suggests that undervaluing mundane events may actually lead us to forego what would be pleasurable experiences of rediscovery.
People find a lot of joy in rediscovering a music playlist from months ago or an old joke with a neighbor, even though those things did not seem particularly meaningful in the moment. The studies highlight the importance of not taking the present for granted and documenting the mundane moments of daily life to give our future selves the joy of rediscovering them.
This holiday season and into 2016 try to be more aware of the small joys. Each moment that you have with loved ones will create happier memories for the future to enjoy.
Healthy people have a common character trait. They have a trait we all need, the character traits we all need is resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; a toughness, or bounce back like elasticity. This is the trait that causes you to get back up…to keep going… Not just by the skin of your teeth but to recover back to your strength. It is centering yourself in three truths:
As we age one of the biggest regrets is the risks that we did not take. God wants you to jump and trust that He will catch you.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
In our day-to-day lives, the tendency is to notice the negative. We get caught up in the things that go wrong and feel like we’re living under our own private rain cloud. The concern is we don’t notice the positive, we tend to adapt and absorb the good things and people in our lives, taking them for granted. The result is, we often overlook everyday beauty and goodness–a kind gesture from a friend, or the warmth of our partner on a chilly morning. In the process, we miss opportunities for happiness and connection.
Three Good Things
At the end of each day try to recall three positive things that happened in that day. Take the time to notice them and thank God. Don’t just look for the big things, acknowledge the small things, like the giggle of your child, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. Train yourself to notice beauty and goodness, you will be surprised at what God brings into your life daily, so often we are to worried, stressed and anxious to notice. End your day counting the blessings not dwelling in the anxiety and worry of the negative.
This practice guards against tendency to only notice the negative. By remembering and listing three positive things that have happened in your day–and maybe even considering what caused them–you tune into the sources of goodness in your life. It’s a habit that can change the emotional tone of your life, replacing feelings of disappointment or entitlement with those of gratitude–which may be why this practice is associated with significant increases in happiness.
Other posts on Gratitude
Gratitude Given or Received Creates Life
Gratitude Changes Everything
Gratitude is the heart of Thanksgiving. Gratitude can change everything…. Think about it. Gratitude transforms the way you interact with your relationships. It fills the empty glass of your emotions. Gratitude truly is able to say “God has worked all things together for my Good!”
Here are some scripture about Gratitude and Thankfulness:
- Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
- Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
- Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
- Psalm 95:2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
- 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ.
For the month of Thanksgiving I want to give you some thoughts on thankfulness and gratitude. Over this holiday season as you interact with your family and friends start a discussion about what you are thankful for. My hope and prayer is that it will create thoughts and actions of gratitude in your life.
Here are some of the benefits of a Grateful Heart:
- Reduces Stress – The struggle with stress is attitude and outlook. Gratitude changes the way you view problems. Your will recover more quickly from adversity and suffering with a grateful heart.
- Improves Health – A regular focus on gratitude can create a significant drop in blood pressure. Patients who cultivate a more positive, thankful attitude after having a heart attack report fewer second heart episodes for up to eight years compared with grumpier patients.
- Improves Relationships – Their is a lot of research that describe how being positive and thankful can transform any relationship. A grateful heart lives in the joy of the present and magnifies the positive emotions that build connection.
- Reduces Negative Emotions – Reducing the focus on negative thoughts is a direct result of gratitude. It will also greatly improve sleep patterns. Gratefulness can even reduce the frequency and length of episodes of depression.
- More Resilient with a High Sense of Self-worth – Gratitude will help you adjust and change with the stress and conflicts that each of us experience. Several studies showed that people who have experienced trauma developed a more positive outlook after a daily meditation on gratitude. They also felt more motivated and had higher levels of self-esteem. A grateful heart recognizes others and how they see the value in you. This can transform the way you see yourself.